10 players to watch during Labour Day Weekend
OK Tire Labour Day Weekend is finally here.
It’s a weekend full of rivalries, big plays and excitement as we say goodbye to summer and welcome fall with open arms.
Things start on Friday night as the Montreal Alouettes and the Ottawa REDBLACKS kick off the weekend. On Sunday, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers visit Saskatchewan to take on the Roughriders.
Labour Day Monday begins in Hamilton as the Tiger-Cats host the Toronto Argonauts and finally the Battle of Alberta between the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks caps of Week 13 in the CFL.
With some great team battles to watch this weekend, there are also plenty of players to keep a close eye on, too. There are hard-hitting defenders, receivers who make our jaws drop and epic quarterbacks getting ready to suit up so here are 10 players to watch in all four Labour Day matchups.
LB, Toronto Argonauts
Wynton McManis has been flying all over the field in the Toronto Argonauts defence, racking up 69 defensive tackles (league lead), seven special teams tackles, three sacks, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. The Argos’ weak side linebacker is leading the league in defensive plays (85) through the first 10 games of the season and is on pace to breaking 100 defensive tackles for the first time in his career.
He’s enjoying playing his East Division rivals this year too, tallying 11 tackles in last week’s match against the Ticats, while also hitting double digits in tackles (10) against the Tabbies in Week 9. The 27-year-old had seven tackles and a sack in his team’s Week 10 matchup against Hamilton as well. Expect much more of that against the Black and Gold this week as the teams wrap up their season series.
QB, Calgary Stampeders
He got his first start of the season last weekend and Jake Maier impressed head coach Dave Dickenson enough to name the QB the Stampeders starter for their Labour Day matchup against the Edmonton Elks. Maier settled in nicely under centre last weekend against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, despite picking up the loss. The 25-year-old completed 23 of 28 passes for 294 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
With confidence of a great performance against a tough defence under his belt, Maier will hope to carry that home to McMahon as his team takes on their Alberta rivals on Monday.
REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Looking for a clutch receiver? Look no further than Dalton Schoen. The Bombers rookie has quickly become one of Zach Collaros‘ favourite targets this season, but what’s even more impressive is his second down conversion catches. Schoen is tied for the lead in that category, hauling in 24 catches on second down to get a fresh set.
Along with gaining trust from his quarterback, Schoen has found the end zone in six of his 11 games played and is second in the league in major scores (eight) just behind BC’s Dominique Rhymes (nine). His 732 receiving yards and 41 catches lead his team.
REC/RET, Ottawa REDBLACKS
DeVonte Dedmon has only been back in the CFL for one game but the resume that the 26-year-old has speaks for himself. He led the league in 2021 in punt return yardage (737), punt return average (15.4), kickoff return yardage (1,223) and kickoff return average (25.0). He also had four missed field goal returns for 103 yards, good for fifth in the league. And don’t forget that he was the fastest player in CFL history to reach five career return touchdowns, needing only 15 games to do so.
Keep an eye out on the REDBLACKS special teams unit as Dedmon is sure to provide fans with some electric plays this weekend against Alouettes.
REC, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
With back-to-back games exceeding 100 yards, Tim White is one watch this weekend. Last week against the Argos, the same team he and his Ticats will be facing in Monday’s Labour Day Classic, White hauled in 105 yards on eight catches. The week before he caught 11 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns against Montreal.
Plus, White appears to really like playing on Labour Day as the five-foot-10, 185-pound receiver had 93 yards and a touchdown (one of just two on the season) in this game in 2021.
REC, Montreal Alouettes
If you’re looking for incredible, ‘how-did-he-do-that??’ catches, look no further than Eugene Lewis. Lewis is tied for second in the CFL in receiving yards (849) and has scored three touchdowns on the season.
Lewis is averaging 15.7 yards per catch, and this isn’t an official statistic, but I can confidently say he’s near the top with Bryan Burnham and Kenny Lawler for catches with exceptional wow-factors. Expect much more of this on Friday when the Als host the REDBLACKS.
KURLEIGH GITTENS JR.
REC, Toronto Argonauts
This season Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson has found some chemistry with Canadian receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. Gittens Jr. has been thrown a team-leading 63 passes, 46 of which he’s hauled in for 553 yards (also leading the team) and two touchdowns.
The 24-year-old has had one game over 100 yards (he had 152 and a touchdown against the Riders in Week 7) but his impact can be felt every week in Toronto’s receiving corps. He scored a touchdown last week against the Ticats and will surely be looking to replicate that at Tim Hortons Field on Monday.
DB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
There are plenty of Tiger-Cats defensive players that could be added to this list but Tunde Adeleke has been consistently around the ball this season. It doesn’t matter where on the field the ball is, Adekele is either making the tackle or right behind whoever is in support.
The Ticats safety has 42 tackles, two tackles on special teams, a sack, and an interception so far this campaign. The five-foot-10, 208-pounder will look to continue to make an impact on Monday as his team hosts the Argos.
LB, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Derrick Moncrief isn’t leading the league in tackles like his linebacker counterparts in Darnell Sankey and Larry Dean, but his impact in games has been massive. The six-foot-two, 220-pound SAM linebacker has been used in a plethora of different situations – just check out CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson’s deep dive on his usage to see for yourself.
Whether he’s roaming around the middle of the defence, applying pressure to the quarterback or dropping back into coverage, Moncrief is making plays and is one to watch against the Bombers on Sunday.
QB/REC, Edmonton Elks
Kai Locksley has lined up as both a quarterback (mostly on short yardage) and receiver this season, showing off his versatility in the Edmonton Elks offence. He’s scored six rushing touchdowns (fourth in the league), completed five of eight passes for 50 yards and has hauled in 15 passes for 238 yards when lined up as a receiver.
With Kenny Lawler reportedly out of the line up this week with an ankle injury and Emmanuel Arceneaux on the six-game injured list, look for Locksley to have a bigger role as a receiver this weekend against the Stampeders.