September 26, 2023

“It’s two local guys playing for Winnipeg”

They’ve dubbed it their ‘204 Handshake’ and it’s become a staple of the pre-game routine for Brady Oliveira and Nic Demski.

And it’s also a small part of one of the more compelling subplots of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2023 season: two Winnipeggers, both from the same high school in Oak Park, are each on the verge of cracking the prestigious 1,000-yard mark – Oliveira having already done so along the ground as the Canadian Football League’s leading rusher and Demski just 69 receiving yards shy of getting to 1K for the first time in his career. Unofficially — the CFL’s stats folks are double-checking this — it would mark the first time Canadians on the same team have rushed for 1,000 yards and had a 1,000 yards in receiving in the same season, let alone two guys from that squad’s town and the same high school.

But, first, the 204 Handshake needs a detailed explanation…

“I’m not sure anyone has noticed this before,” began Oliveira, “but on game day during our warm-up Nic meets me and we do our 204 Handshake.”

The breakdown of the ritual:

Step 1: Demski and Oliveira do a two-finger peace-sign tap at waist level.

Step 2: The pair then pound closed fists, one on top of the other, to represent the zero in 204.

Step 3: The finishing move is an arm-lock high five, but with the two local products holding four fingers in the air.

“We’re obviously both proud Winnipeggers and we want to put on for our city,” Oliveira explained. “And playing at home especially we want to put on a show for our family, our friends, and the best fans in the league.

“We talked about the thousand-yard thing earlier today. I told him this already: ‘This is the week to go get it.’ He’s been playing at such a high level but has had injuries in years past. We chatted even before the season that our goal together was to stay healthy for all 18 games and really put it on for our city and put up some numbers. The fact that he has been healthy for us and has been a total game changer for our offence is amazing.”

“He’s done so much in this league and for him to be on the verge of his first thousand-yard season is pretty special. That’s my best friend; that’s my guy. It’s huge. I’m super proud of him. And for both of us to be on the verge of getting a thousand… that’s pretty special. It’s so cool, man. So cool.”

Oliveira has already cracked the 1K mark for the second consecutive season and has a 168-yard advantage on Edmonton’s Kevin Brown for the CFL rushing lead.

The Demski soon-to-come accomplishment is significant because, as we outlined earlier this month the Blue Bombers haven’t had a Canadian receiver post a 1,000-yard season since Gerald Wilcox in 1995.

“That’s pretty cool,” said Demski, who was admittedly a tad reluctant to dive into the subject until he reaches the mark. “Brady and I, we’re both team-first people, but honestly, we have had a conversation or two about that and what kind of season this is.

“It would be really cool to have two guys on the same team and from the same high school do that. It’s two local guys playing for Winnipeg… I mean, I think it does say something about the talent that has come out of this city.”

Demski would become just the sixth Canadian in club history to hit the 1K receiving mark after Ken Nielsen (1967, 1968), Bob Larose (1971), Joe Poplawski (1981, 1985, 1986), Rick House (1981, 1982) and Wilcox (1993, 1994, 1995).

Oliveira, meanwhile, is already just the third Canadian running back to hit the 1K mark for the Blue Bombers after Gerry James (1955, 1957) and Andrew Harris (2017, 2018, 2019).

“It’s special, yes,” said Blue Bombers offensive coordinator Buck Pierce after practice on Tuesday. “And they’re special people that are competitive and are willing to do whatever the team needs. Obviously, everybody talks about the numbers and all those things because they make headlines. But they’re two of the most selfless individuals and teammates I’ve been around.

“I’m extremely happy for those guys and their individual successes, but they also know, and we know in our locker room that individual success is a by-product of the people around you and the work they put in as a collective unit. Very happy, very well deserved, but it’s also not the biggest thing on their minds right now.”


The Argos clinched first place in the East Division for a third straight season earlier this month and with a long stretch of schedule ahead of them are already using games to get bodies healthy again or rest starters.

A week ago, it was running back AJ Ouellette and receiver Cam Phillips and TSN’s Matthew Sciannitti reported Tuesday some news from Argo practice – QB Chad Kelly will dress but give way to back-up Cameron Dukes for Friday’s Grey Cup rematch at IG Field.

Regardless of that, the Blue Bombers have their own objectives to reach, including keeping pace this with the B.C. Lions, also 10-4, before next week’s showdown in Vancouver.

“It’s another week, another opportunity to compete,” said Demski. “It doesn’t matter who lines up in front of us, at the end of the day we’ve got to worry about us. If we spend too much time worrying about Toronto we’re not going to come into this game with the right mindset.

“To me it doesn’t matter… they could dress all their starters or dress their third strings, but we’ve got to do our process and come out here and play good football.”

And from head coach Mike O’Shea: “As JY (Jordan Younger, defensive backs coach) said, at a certain point they earned the right to make whatever decision they want with the last bunch of games.

“Football, pro sport, any kind of business if you don’t execute your plan then sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want. Our job, no matter what happens, no matter what their roster looks like, is to go out and execute. I’m sure they don’t really look at who’s playing for us.”


Receiver Dalton Schoen was a full participant on Tuesday after missing Monday’s session. Also going full out were DE Jackson Jeffcoat, DE Thiadric Hansen and CB Desmond Lawrence.

FYI, WR/KR Janarion Grant was also spotted running during the practice session and maybe available next week.


The latest Blue Bombers Handled Internally podcast, featuring myself and my compadre Darren Cameron and featuring Zach Collaros is now available on iTunes and Spotify.