December 13, 2023

Top 10 Canadian performers of the 2023 Season

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — It’s every kid’s dream to be the hero for their hometown team.

This year a few National players got to do just that, putting up impressive performances all across the league.

It’s the case of Winnipeg natives Brady Oliveira and wide receiver Nic Demski, who combined to become the first National duo to go over 1,000 yards rushing and a 1,000 receiving with the Blue Bombers.

Defensive lineman Mathieu Betts meanwhile led the league in sacks and established a new record for a National player with 18, while former Carabins Marc-Antoine Dequoy was essential in helping the Montreal Alouettes capture the 110th Grey Cup.

As we approach the end of 2023, takes you through the Top 10 Canadian performers of the 2023 Season:

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1. Brady Oliveira

(Jason Halstead/

The No. 1 on the list could not be anyone other than the Most Outstanding Canadian of 2023. Oliveira led all running backs with 1,534 rushing yards while adding 482 more through the air to go over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. The All-Star rusher joined Jon Cornish as just the second National player to overcome the mark, while also scoring 13 total majors as one of the centre pieces of the Bombers offence.

Oliveira was equally excellent in the post-season, rushing for 109 yards and a touchdown in the Western Final against the BC Lions before going for 119 and another score in the 110th Grey Cup against the Alouettes.

2. Mathieu Betts

(Steven Chang/

In any other year Betts would have as strong of a case as anyone for Most Outstanding Canadian, but the runner-up for the award was just as impressive as the defensive counterpart to Oliveira.

The defensive lineman led a Lions defence that finished second in total sacks with 55 and was responsible for roughly one in every three on his way to establishing the new record by a National Player and help his team make it to the Western Final.

3. Marc-Antoine Dequoy

(Peter Power/

Dequoy – much like the Alouettes defence as a unit – kept getting better and better as the season progressed on his way to becoming a core piece for the Grey Cup-winning squad.

The East Division All-Star finished the regular season with five interceptions and two majors, adding two more picks and a touchdown in the post-season for Montreal.

4. Nic Demski

(Arthur Ward/

Demski was the other half of the lethal National duo with Oliveira. The wide receiver went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career (1,006) and added six majors for an explosive aerial offence in Winnipeg on his way to being named to the West Division All-Star team.

The veteran also had 11 more catches for 111 receiving yards in the post-season in his fourth straight Grey Cup appearance with the Blue Bombers.

5. Cameron Judge

(The Canadian Press)

Judge was a turnover machine in 2023, forcing two fumbles to go along five interceptions over the course of the regular season. The star linebacker also added a career-high 90 tackles to go alongside two sacks as a force for Calgary’s defence.

The Montreal native also led the Stamps in the Western Semi-Final in tackles with eight while adding a sack against the BC Lions.

6. Tre Ford

(Brett Holmes/

Ford had a breakout season with the Edmonton Elks after taking over the starting job halfway through the season. The quarterback finished the year with 2,069 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, while adding 622 rushing yards and three more scores on the ground.

The pivot helped the Elks break a 22-game losing streak at home with his dynamic talents both as a passer and as a runner, helping Edmonton finish third in rushing yards per game with 123.6.

7. Tyson Philpot

(Minas Panagiotakis/

Philpot didn’t have the gaudiest stats during the regular season after appearing in only 13 games for the Alouettes due to injury. The dynamic second-year receiver showed his talents in the post-season though, especially in the Grey Cup, scoring the game-winning touchdown against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. His efforts earned him the Most Valuable Canadian of the 110th Grey Cup.

Overall Philpot finished with 532 receiving yards and five majors in the regular season, while adding 15 catches for 144 yards and the championship-winning major over three games in the post-season.

8. Samuel Emilus

(Arthur Ward/

Emilus burst onto the scene in 2023 as part of a talented wide receiver group in Saskatchewan. The Montreal native had 1,097 receiving yards and six majors as the Roughriders finished third in passing yards per game with 280.4.

The 26-year-old quickly established himself on his second season in Saskatchewan after scoring a trio of majors against the Blue Bombers in Week 2.

9. Jevon Cottoy

(Jamie Douglas/

The six-foot-five receiver was impressive all year long as a big piece for a Lions offence that led the league in passing yards per game with 315.1.

Cottoy was responsible for 807 receiving yards and four touchdowns with an average of 14.2 yards per catch, all career-high marks for the 27-year old. The pass-catcher also had 63 yards and a major in the Western Semi-Final win over the Stampeders.

10. Stavros Katsantonis

(Kevin Sousa/

Katsantonis is another five-interception defender to make the list as a big presence in the middle of Hamilton’s secondary. The defensive back grabbed four of his five picks from Weeks 13-21, finishing the season strong as the Ticats made a push towards the playoffs.

The 27-year-old also tied with linebacker Jameer Thurman for the lead in tackles in the Eastern Semi-Final for the Tabbies with six.

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