November 29, 2010
We're continuing the three-star selection format we've used throughout the playoffs. Here are your three stars for the 98th Grey Cup Sunday (all photos from yesterday's game except Shologan's, from Wednesday's practice).
First Star/Offensive Player of the Week: Jamel Richardson (slotback, Montreal)
Despite Richardson claiming the Grey Cup's MVP award, you could make an argument for quite a lot of candidates here. Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo threw for over 300 yards and completed 69 per cent of his 42 pass attempts without a single interception, even more amazing when you consider that at least part of his mind had to be on his upcoming surgery. Alouettes' running back Avon Cobourne ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns, and Wes Cates was unbelievably effective on the ground for the Riders, picking up 83 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries.
You could also make a strong argument for putting a defensive player here, considering that Montreal's defence was the story of the game. Their defence was more about collective performances than individual ones, though, and Richardson had a fantastic day by the numbers, his third-straight 100-plus yard showing in the Grey Cup.
More importantly, as I discussed in my last post, every catch Richardson made was contested. His spectacular grab against Omarr Morgan near the goal-line resulted in a seven-point swing, taking away what looked like a sure interception and setting up a Cobourne touchdown. His showing was also done under tremendous pressure from the fans and the atmosphere. As he said to TSN, though, "When the lights are on, that's when the stars come out."
Also considered: Calvillo, Cobourne, Cates
Second Star/Defensive Player of the Week: Jerrell Freeman (linebacker, Saskatchewan)
Freeman wins this award for the second straight week despite being on the losing side this time around. He didn't jump on a loose fumble this week, and he hasn't been given $100 by a fan yet, but he was an absolute monster on defence, flying around all day and making eight tackles, a sack and several pass knockdowns. Freeman's come a long way from Waco, Texas, and a long way from the Division III University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders, but as he told me earlier this week, he's been in pressure-packed situations before under the Friday night lights of Texas high school football. Maybe it isn't surprising that he can shine on any given Sunday, too.
Also considered: Billy Parker, Keith Shologan, John Bowman
Third Star/Special-Teams Player of the Week: Tim Maypray (returner, Montreal)
We have another returning performer! Maypray wasn't quite as spectacular as he was last week against Toronto, but he still gave Montreal vital field position all day. He picked up 94 yards on four kick returns and 28 more on five punt returns, and those yards proved crucial in a defensive game with a lot of kicking. He also forced Eddie Johnson to go for directional punts some of the time to try and limit his returns, and that shortened Johnson's punts beyond what he might have been able to achieve otherwise. I guess Marc Trestman and Jim Popp knew what they were doing when they released Larry Taylor and opted to go with Maypray.
Bonus Star/Outstanding Canadian of the Week: Keith Shologan (defensive tackle, Saskatchewan)
Shologan was all over the place Sunday night, much more than you'd ever expect from a defensive tackle. He helped Saskatchewan's much-maligned rushing defence contain the run, holding Cobourne to 4.5 yards per carry, and he was also effective rushing the passer, recording a game-high two sacks against Calvillo. He was one of the game's top defensive players and a deserving choice for top Canadian.
Also considered: Andy Fantuz, Etienne Boulay