CFL Awards Nominees announced; Calgary, Toronto top list with 4 each

TORONTO — Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly and Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray will both vie for the league’s top individual honor, the Most Outstanding Player award.

The Canadian Football League announced on Thursday that the two players have been voted Most Outstanding Player in their respective divisions. The winner will be announced at the Shaw CFL Awards on Thursday, November 23 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa as part of the festivities for the 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw.

The Shaw CFL Awards, which include six categories, are decided by 89 voters from the Football Reporters of Canada and head coaches from across the league.

Here are all of this year’s nominees:

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER

West: Edmonton QB Mike Reilly led the CFL with 5,830 passing yards, and sat atop the league with a quarterback rating of 87.1. He tied for the league-lead with 30 touchdown passes, and both his totals for passing yards and touchdown passes were career bests. Earlier this week Reilly was named a West Division All-Star for the second time in his career.

East: Ricky Ray, meanwhile, earned his third East Division Award for Most Outstanding Player. This season he helped turn around the Toronto Argonauts from last place a year ago at 5-13 to four more wins and first place in the East Division. Ray passed for 5,546 passing yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 71% of his passes. The 2017 season marked the fourth time in his 15-year CFL career that he surpassed the 5,000 yard passing mark.

MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER

West: Calgary linebacker Alex Singleton takes on Montreal linebacker Kyries Hebert for the Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Singleton set a Canadian record for most tackles in a season with 123, good for second in the league. Singleton helped anchor a defense that allowed a league-low 349 points (19.4 points per game), created a CFL-best 50 Sacks, and forced the most Turnovers (45). To his resume Singleton added four sacks, a forced fumble and one interception. He finished second in the CFL with 151 total defensive plays.In his 11th year in the CFL,

East: Hebert led the East Division with 110 tackles while adding three forced fumbles, two sacks and an interception. The thirty-seven-year-old became the oldest player to record 100 tackles in a season, which was also the first-time in his career he reached the 100-tackle mark. It also marks the fifth time in six years an Alouette has represented the East for the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award.

MOST OUTSTANDING CANADIAN

The Nominees for Most Outstanding Canadian are running back Andrew Harris from Winnipeg, Manitoba and receiver Brad Sinopoli from Peterborough, Ontario.

West: Harris rushed for over 1,000 yards for the third time in his career and set a career-high with 857 receiving yards. Harris also set a new CFL record among running backs by recording 105 receptions to lead the league.

East: For the second time, Sinopoli has been named a finalist for the Most Outstanding Canadian (winning it in 2015). The Ottawa REDBLACK recorded his third-straight 1,000-receiving yard season, the first time that has been since Ben Cahoon in 2009 after making 91 receptions for 1,009 yards. The sure-handed receiver was critical on second-down this year where he led the league with 41 conversion receptions. This  makes it back-to-back seasons a running back and a receiver were nominated for this award in the same year. Prior to last year, the last occurrence was in 2003 when Ben Cahoon and Chris Szarka were finalists.

NISSAN TITAN MOST OUTSTANDING OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

The nominees for the Nissan TITAN Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award are Winnipeg’s Stanley Bryant and Toronto’s Sean McEwen.

West: Bryant was key to the Blue Bombers’ offensive success this season. As a team, Winnipeg recorded the most rushing yards and were the only team to average 100+ rushing yards per game.

East Division representative Sean McEwen helped the Argonauts record the second-highest net offense and helped Ricky Ray pass for over 5,000 yards.

MOST OUTSTANDING ROOKIE

Calgary receiver Marken Michel and Toronto running back James Wilder Jr. have each been nominated for the CFL Most Outstanding Rookie.

West: Michel recorded 780 receiving yards on 41 receptions with a league-leading 19.0 yards per reception.

East: Wilder Jr. recorded the sixth-most yards from scrimmage this year with 1,405 (872 rushing, 533 receiving) while scoring a total of five touchdowns in 17 games and only 10 starts.

MOST OUTSTANDING SPECIAL TEAMS

Calgary’s Roy Finch will take on Ottawa’s Diontae Spencer for the Most Outstanding Special Teams player award.

West: Finch averaged 16.4 yards per punt return, the third-highest average in CFL history. Finch recorded 1,914 kick return yards and scored three touchdowns.

East: Spencer scored two kick return touchdowns while recording 1,796 return yards.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Second-year head coach Dave Dickenson has been nominated as Coach of the Year finalist for the West Division for the second straight season, while Marc Trestman represents the East Division.

West: Dickenson recorded 13 wins for the first-place Stampeders, earning a spot in the Western Semi-Final.

East: In his first season in Toronto, Trestman was able to turn the league’s 2016 last-place team into East Division Champions. Both finalists have won the award previously, Dickenson in 2016 and Trestman in 2009.

Note: Voters were asked to select players from their local CFL division who, through their on-field performance excellence, best represent the awards’ titles: Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Nissan TITAN Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, Most Outstanding Rookie, and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. Voters were also asked to select the Coach of the Year candidates.

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