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December 5, 2018

O’Leary’s Alt-Stars: The best of the rest in 2018

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

It sounds like a Confucius-type lesson, but any decision made comes with a cost, a triggering of a yin and yang reaction that regardless of the size of the ripple, will resonate through the universe.

In the second edition of our Alt-Stars, we see that with our headliner selection, in Montreal Alouettes linebacker Henoc Muamba. A quick refresher: the Alt-Star team was born last year.

With the league’s All-Star selection process a difficult one that forces the exclusion of elite talent (we see you, William Powell!), we wanted to shine the spotlight on those that had great years but didn’t make it on to the official list. Just like last year, there’s room on this list for sentimental picks. While Nik Lewis and John Bowman were on it a year ago, Kamar Jorden and his brilliant half of a campaign made it onto my list this year.

This year, Muamba stands out the most to this committee of one…who is also a member of the committee of 59 voters that chose this year’s All-Stars.

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The league’s second-leading rusher missed out on this year’s All-Star list (Patrick Doyle/CFL.ca)

Muamba’s stat line — 108 defensive tackles, five quarterback sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery — is the stuff of an unquestioned All-Star. But when you stack him against the two linebackers chosen over him, Alex Singleton and Adam Bighill (Don Unamba was voted an all-star as a cover LB), the elimination process starts to become more clear.

Singleton’s Stamps won a league-best 13 games. Bighill’s Bombers won 10 and hosted a playoff game in the steep, neverending uphill battle that is the West Division. In his first year with the Alouettes, Muamba was a part of a five-win team that missed the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

The Als were last in time of possession, at 27:05 per game, which put their defence on the field longer than any other team in the league. Montreal’s 2,067 yards allowed on the ground was second-worst in the league, which creates a necessity for your linebackers to step in and try to stop a running back that’s broken through a defensive line’s coverage.

Which brings us back to choices and that ripple effect they can have. Muamba had a career year in Montreal and remains one of the best linebackers and national players in the league, but his team’s shortcomings likely cost him in all-star voting. When he signed with the Als in April, he said he was thinking beyond football, taking a three-year contract so that he could give his young family some stability and to help the Als grow into a contender again. Muamba’s talent is unquestioned, but the Als will likely have to climb into the playoff picture for him to get back onto the league-wide all-star selection horizon again.

2018 CFL Alt-Stars

OFFENCE

QB: Mike Reilly, Edmonton Eskimos

RB: William Powell, Ottawa REDBLACKS

REC: Kamar Jorden, Calgary Stampeders

REC: Jalen Saunders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

REC: S.J. Green, Toronto Argpnauts

REC: Darvin Adams, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

REC: Greg Ellingson, Ottawa REDBLACKS

C: Alex Mateas, Ottawa REDBLACKS

OG: Sukh Chung, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

OG: Shane Bergman, Calgary Stampeders

OT: Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

OT: Chris Van Zeyl, Toronto Argonauts

 

DEFENCE

DE: Odell Willis, BC Lions

DE: Kwaku Boateng, Edmonton Eskimos

DT: Ted Laurent, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

DT: Cleyon Laing, Toronto Argonauts

LB: Henoc Muamba, Montreal Alouettes

LB: Larry Dean, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Cover LB: Jamar Wall, Calgary Stampeders

CB: Kevin Fogg, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

CB: Ciante Evans, Calgary Stampeders

HB: Loucheiz Purifoy, Saskatchewan Roughriders

HB: Derico Murray, Ottawa REDBLACKS

S: Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa REDBLACKS

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: Rene Parades, Calgary Stampeders

Punter: Richie Leone, Ottawa REDBLACKS

Return: Terry Williams, Calgary Stampeders