CALGARY — When the ball is kicked off on Sunday night for the 107th Grey Cup presented by Shaw, there will be four former Manitoba Bisons hitting the field.
Three Winnipeg Blue Bombers – receiver Nic Demski, offensive lineman Geoff Gray and linebacker Thomas Miles – along with running back/receiver Anthony Coombs from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are all alumni from the same school in Manitoba.
“They’ve got a great program over there,” Demski said when asked about the four former Bisons suiting up on Sunday. “They produce great players. To say that I came from there and still playing for my hometown and have the opportunity to bring a Grey Cup back to Winnipeg means a lot.”
“They get some terrific athletes that transition to the next level fairly quickly and easily,” added head coach Mike O’Shea at a press conference ahead of the team’s practice on Friday. “They’re good players. It’s exciting for us as the Bombers to have Bisons on our team and have hometown guys on our team.”
As mentioned by the Bombers’ bench boss, all four former Bisons are also native of Winnipeg. But the Blue Bombers players are trying to bring the Grey Cup to a city that hasn’t won a championship since 1990.
“I like everybody who reaches out. It means that much more to me,” said Demski. “Whether it’s friends, people who I grew up with, family or even just people in the community. I’ve gotten stopped at grocery stores before (and people) are giving me the whole history about the drought. It’s good, it adds the motivation to see fans who really believe in us, who are passionate about this process and seeing how hard we worked. It’s going to be a lot for them when we’re in the Grey Cup on Sunday.”
In order to bring the Grey Cup to Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers offence will have to get through a tough Hamilton Tiger-Cats defence.
But if any offence in the CFL can try and expose the Tabbies defence, it’s the Bombers.
Led by one of the league’s best offensive minds at offensive coordinator, Paul LaPolice has utilized a number of players out of the backfield including starting running back Andrew Harris, Demski and quarterback Chris Streveler.
While the team loves to run the ball – they finished the regular season with the league’s best rushing attack – they also use QB Zach Collaros to stretch the field. And for Demski, who lines up as a receiver and a running back, that’s exactly the kind of offence he wants to be in.
“You always want to know as a player, how we’re going to attack the opposing defence,” Demski said. “When you see versatile ways to attack them, it’s exciting, especially for someone in my position too.”
The 25-year-old has hauled in 44 passes for 543 yards and three touchdowns along with 26 carries for 147 yards and two major scores. He also scored a 33-yard rushing touchdown in the Western Semi-Final against the Calgary Stampeders.
Along with Demski, the other Bison alumni will also likely see action on Sunday. Gray is likely to see action the offensive line while Miles will suit up on special teams for Winnipeg. Coombs has been used as a receiver and a running back in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats offence, splitting plays in the backfield with the likes of running backs Tyrell Sutton, Maleek Irons and Cameron Marshall and receiver Bralon Addison.
Now, all four players have just one more day of preparation before the biggest game of their careers. Kickoff between the Bombers and Ticats is on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.