Bombers dominate 2022 CFL Awards
REGINA – For the second year in a row, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were a dominant presence at the CFL Awards.
Four Blue Bombers heard their names called on Thursday night at Regina’s Conexus Arts Centre, with quarterback Zach Collaros headlining the successful list of winners by taking home his second consecutive Most Outstanding Player Award.
Coach Mike O’Shea won his second consecutive coach of the year award, offensive lineman Stanley Bryant was named Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman for the fourth time in his career and receiver Dalton Schoen surprised exactly no one by being named the rookie of the year, after posting a league-leading 1,441 receiving yards, along with 16 touchdowns.
“To a man, those three guys have a tremendous understanding of the people around them,” O’Shea said of his three players that won awards. “The effort they put in and how that leads to their own personal accolades. Even Dalton, how new to our league he is…he’s such a vet, with a great understanding of what team sport is all about. All of them get it.”
“This is an amazing accolade,” Collaros said of his MOP. He’s the first person to win back-to-back MOPs since Anthony Calvillo in 2008 and 2009.
“It’s not lost on me, the history of the league and the people that have been fortunate enough to win, or win two times in a row. To be mentioned with those people is crazy to me. I can’t do this job without the other 11 people doing their jobs.”
“I noticed the culture right away and knew it was special. It was different from anything else I’d ever seen in professional football,” Schoen said of his initial impressions of the Blue Bombers.
“You instantly want to be a part of that. You want to be a member of that and so that drives you even more to want to be a part of a team and also just to fit in…to that culture. I think it’s a big reason for our success.”
The bigger focus for the Blue Bombers is on Sunday, where they will take aim at their third consecutive Grey Cup win. To do that, they’ll have to get past the Toronto Argonauts. The two teams meet at the 109th Grey Cup at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.
“It’s way more important to be on the field with a group of guys working for a common goal,” said O’Shea.
“I think at the end of the day it’s about the camaraderie and the team and going out there and winning Grey Cups,” said Bryant, who has won all four of his Outstanding Offensive Lineman awards while playing for the Bombers.
The night wasn’t just a celebration of the Bombers. BC Lions’ quarterback Nathan Rourke was named the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian player, Ottawa REDBLACKS’ defensive lineman Lorenzo Mauldin IV was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player and Saskatchewan Roughriders’ return specialist Mario Alford took home Most Outstanding Special Teams Player honours.
“I’m not done. I have a long way to go and this is just the beginning,” said Mauldin, who had a league-leading 17 quarterback sacks this season.
“The guys helped me get this. I didn’t get this on my own. Through the countless practices, the time spent in the locker room, the time spent in the media room and even in the meeting rooms. I didn’t win this award on my own and it felt good to be able to win this for the guys and the REDBLACK organization in total.”
Longtime CFL official Jeff Harbin received The Commissioner’s Award. It recognizes and individual or group for outstanding contributions to the league.
Harbin has dedicated the last 22 years to the CFL with an unwavering dedication to his work, despite his battle with cancer.
BC Lions CEO and president Rick LeLacheur received the Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award. Chosen by the commissioner, the award recognizes an individual or individuals that have demonstrated great leadership while making significant contributions to the league.
Saskatchewan Roughriders’ centre Dan Clark received the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award, which is given annually to a Canadian player that demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s veterans: strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship and contribution to Canadian communities.
The Jane Mawby Tribute Award went to Saskatchewan Roughriders director of ticket operations Gail Mund, as she prepares to retire after 27 years of service to the club. The award recognizes a highly valued, yet too-often unsung current employee at the club or league level.
Finally, Edmonton Elks receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux was named this year’s recipient of the Tom Pate Memorial Award. Chosen by the CFL Players’ Association, the award celebrates outstanding sportsmanship and is given to a player that has made significant contributions to his team and his community association.