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EDMONTON — Lewis Ward‘s fairy-tale first season in the CFL continued on Thursday night at the 2018 Shaw CFL Awards, where the Ottawa REDBLACKS kicker took home the league’s Most Outstanding Rookie and the Most Outstanding Special Teams awards.
After a season highlighted with records and streaks, Ward became the first kicker to ever win the special teams honour, and just the third to ever be nominated.
“I had my best friend in the crowd and I was telling him my hands are sweaty,” Ward told members of the media after accepting both of his awards. “I said I’m nervous – I’d rather kick a football in front of 24,000 people than talk in front of people. But having that experience, definitely going up the second time was much, much easier, but no, it’s a good experience.”
An unlikely underdog for the place kicking job in camp this year, Ward went a remarkable 51 for 52 (98.1 per cent) on field goal attempts, setting a single-season CFL record (former record was 94.7 per cent by Rene Paredes) and in the process setting the all-time record for most consecutive made field goals with 48, a streak that will continue into 2019.
The Kingston, Ont. native scored 169 points for the REDBLACKS this season.
Ward becomes the first Ottawa player to win the Most Outstanding Rookie since 1990 when Reggie Barnes won the award. Other Ottawa players to win the award include Orville Lee (1988), Chris Isaac (1982) and Tom Clements (1975).
Ward earned 50 out of a possible 60 first-place votes for Most Outstanding Rookie.
“Not being drafted, there’s a lot that goes with making a football team,” said Ward, who went undrafted on his way to making the REDBLACKS starting roster. “The easy way doesn’t always last the longest. You’ve got to put the work in. You’ve got to do the hard work that it takes, and it might not always be as soon as you want it to, but if you keep working at it then it’ll happen in the end.
“I’m satisfied with how things have turned out.”
Ward now shifts his focus to the 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw where he hopes to add another piece of hardware to his collection as the REDBLACKS battle the Stampeders for the Grey Cup.
“We’ve got some preparation to do this week,” Ward said. “And hopefully we’ll have another one to add to these.”