Collaros, Lewis in the running for CFL's outstanding player award

TORONTO — Another year, another West Division outstanding player nomination for Zach Collaros.

The Winnipeg quarterback secured the Western nomination Tuesday for a second straight year. Collaros captured the CFL's outstanding player award last year, then capped his season by leading the Bombers to a second straight Grey Cup title.

Collaros finished with over 4,000 yards passing for the first time and his 37 TD strikes were a CFL high as he led Winnipeg to a CFL-best 15-3 record, which was also a franchise record for most regular-season victories.

Montreal receiver Eugene Lewis captured the East Division nomination in voting conducted by the Football Reporters of Canada and nine CFL head coaches. The Alouettes star was third overall in receiving with 91 receptions for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Lewis is the second straight Montreal player to be a finalist for the outstanding player honour as running back William Stanback was named the East Division's top player last year.

The CFL's top defensive player award will be contested by its top two sack artists. Ottawa's Lorenzo Mauldin IV (league-high 17 sacks, career-best 43 tackles) secured the East Division nod while Calgary's Shawn Lemon (second overall with 14 sacks, career-high 29 tackles) is the West Division nominee.

B.C. quarterback Nathan Rourke and Toronto receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr., are the finalists for the top Canadian honour. Rourke threw for over 3,300 yards and had 25 TDs in posting an 8-2 record as the Lions starter, leading the club to wins in eight of its first nine games before suffering a foot injury that required surgery.

Gittens Jr. led all Canadian receivers in catches (81), yards (career-best 1,101) while posting a career-high five TD grabs for Toronto.

For a second straight year, Winnipeg's Stanley Bryant and Hamilton's Brandon Revenberg are the finalists for the top lineman award. Bryant earned the honour in 2021 to become the first player in league history to do so three times.

Revenberg and Bryant were also finalists in 2018, with Bryant being named the award winner.

Receivers Dalton Schoen of Winnipeg and Tyson Philpot of Montreal are the top rookie candidates. Schoen led the CFL in receiving with 70 catches for 1,441 yards with 16 TDs while Philpot had 39 receptions for 459 yards and two touchdowns.

Returners Mario Alford of Saskatchewan and Chandler Worthy of Montreal earned divisional special-teams honours. Alford had a league-high four return TDs (punt, two kickoffs, missed field goal) and 1,689 combined return yards. He's the 11th player in CFL history to register four return TDs in a season and just the fourth to score in all three return categories.

Worthy had a CFL record-tying two kickoff return TDs this season and a career-high 1,824 combined return yards, registering six punt returns of 30 or more yards and four kickoffs of 40-plus yards.

Winnipeg's Mike O'Shea and Toronto's Ryan Dinwiddie are finalists for coach-of-the-year honours for a second straight year. The Blue Bombers finished atop the West Division with their 15-3 record while Toronto (11-7) was first in the East Division for the second season in a row.

O'Shea claimed last year's honour after Winnipeg finished first in the West with an 11-3 record during the CFL's abbreviated 2021 season. The native of North Bay, Ont., is in his eighth season with the Bombers and is the league's longest-serving head coach.

The CFL's awards banquet will be held Nov. 17 in Regina.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2022.

The Canadian Press