The year was 1995. Jean Chretien was Prime Minister; Die Hard with a Vengeance was pulling in mucho dinero at the box office while Boyz II Men and TLC were atop the charts.
For the record, that same season the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were a mediocre 7-11 and fell to the Baltimore Stallions in the Northern Semi-Final back in the ill-fated American expansion days. And for what it’s worth, the club’s leading receiver was Gerald Wilcox, who pulled in 69 passes that year, primarily from Reggie Slack and Sammy Garza, and authored his third consecutive 1,000-yard season with 1,024 yards.
We bring this up today because Nic Demski is moving closer to accomplishing a feat that hasn’t been matched in all the years since by possibly becoming the first Blue Bombers Canadian receiver since Wilcox to crack the 1K mark.
Demski has 50 catches for 794 yards this year – currently seventh in the Canadian Football League and first among Canadians – with that number already a career high and just 206 shy of 1,000.
Still, that’s a lot of years since a Blue Bombers Canadian receiver hit the 1K mark.
“That shocks me a little bit,” began Demski in a chat with bluebombers.com on Thursday. “At the same time, I know how much we love to run the ball here and what that means to us as part of the identity of this team. It’s pretty cool that I’m getting close but at the end of the day it’s all about the team.”
Older and wiser now, Demski’s goals have changed since the proud product of the Charleswood Broncos/Oak Park Raiders/University of Manitoba was a first-round selection by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2015. A 1K season would be sparkle on his football resumé no doubt, but he’s chasing another Grey Cup ring.
The individual goals used to be a thing. And now…
“Not so much,” he said with a shrug. “I used to (set individual goals) honestly. I really did. Now I don’t really have personal goals anymore. I just scrapped that and made it more team related. I write one goal each and every year and that’s ‘be a champion.’
“Obviously, a (1,000-yard season) is something as a receiver and as a competitor that you always have as a benchmark; something that you want to complete or do. But it’s never really at the top of my mind at the start of a season. Those are the things you have to keep in the back of your head because if you’re just focusing on that some other things might get away from you. So, for me it’s stay consistent, stay on the field and be healthy and then that number might possibly come my way.”
*In 2016, Kohlert was the leading Canadian receiver, but RB Andrew Harris led all Blue Bomber Canadians in receptions and yardage in 2016 with 67 receptions for 631 yards and one TD.
#In 2017, Feoli-Gudino was the leading Canadian receiver, but Harris led the Blue Bombers with 105 receptions for 857 yards and one TD
^In 2018 Wolitarsky led all Blue Bomber Canadians in receiving yardage with 65; Nic Demski led Canadians in receptions with 59.
It’s worth noting that since joining the Blue Bombers in 2018, Demski’s game has simply continued to grow, with this year being the third consecutive season he has set a career high in receiving yardage. Add in his 115 yards rushing this year and his yards from scrimmage are a tasty 909.
All of that – being used as a receiver and a rusher – were part of the appeal to Demski when he came home in free agency.
“When I signed here a lot of it was LaPo (then offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice),” said Demski. “I had heard about his creativity in the offence. The main thing that stood out to me in the discussions was they wanted to use me as a slotback. That right there… I tell young guys it’s all about opportunity and where you see yourself fit, especially in a league like this. It was a great opportunity, and I’ve been trying to make the most of it ever since.”
Those opportunities have continued to grow with Buck Pierce now calling the plays and Demski, now 30, has learned to roll with the punches in an attack stacked with weapons. So, there he was pulling in five passes for 118 yards in the Labour Day Classic one week, before having one catch for eight yards in last week’s Banjo Bowl blowout.
“Everybody gets looks out here in this offence,” he said. “Everybody is going to get opportunities and chances to shine. That’s also part of it – there’s a lot of creativity in this offence and ways to get people into space. It’s a lot of fun playing in an offence like this.
“We have no shortage of weapons, that’s for sure. We do a good job of being a close-knit group and just working for each other. That’s all that matters. That and being a champion at the end of the year.”