CFL Blitz: Handing out hardware

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Chris Matthews. (Jason Halstead/QMI Agency)

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Chris Matthews. (Jason Halstead/QMI Agency)

Ian Busby, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

With the two division winners set and four of the five playoff game sites determined, there isn't much that can change drastically in the final two weeks of the CFL regular season.

In the final eight regular-season games, though, the Football Reporters of Canada voters in each market will have tough decisions to make.

Year-end award nominees are about to be chosen, and there are so many question marks around the league. Only one major award category is for sure, at this point, and that's Chris Matthews is the runaway winner for rookie of the year.

Because of the way voting works, every individual vote for team nominees is a crucial one that could decide the final year-end award-winners.

Last year, the Montreal chapter decided to nominate Anthony Calvillo for most outstanding player from the Alouettes, instead of receiver Jamel Richardson, who likely would have won the league MOP instead of B.C. QB Travis Lulay.

There are a few similar scenarios again this year. Does Lulay get the nod again from the Vancouver media? Or will Andrew Harris get a chance at a double award?

Same goes for Jon Cornish in Calgary, or could Nik Lewis take the nomination?

All four are deserving, so it's hard to say what a handful of informed people will do.

In Hamilton, Chris Williams is a candidate for the league MOP award, but if voters there decide Henry Burris' 37 TD passes are more impressive, the dynamic receiver/returner will get shut out.

Here is how we believe the awards should go, although we actually have to wait and see the nominees before casting real votes.

Most outstanding player

He doesn't have the wild and crazy numbers, but Lions QB Lulay just has 'it.' He wins games and makes everyone around him better. Realistically, this should be his first MOP win, but last year's was early because Richardson was not given a chance. Voters shouldn't exclude Lulay just because he won it last year.

East pick: Chris Williams, Hamilton.

West pick: Travis Lulay, B.C.

Winner should be: Lulay.

Most outstanding Canadian

This is a two-horse race between running backs who should garner discussion about being their team's MOP candidates. B.C.'s Andrew Harris and Calgary's Jon Cornish have put up historic seasons for homegrown talent and it's almost a shame one has to lose. Both should be at the awards ceremony in Toronto, but it doesn't work that way. Montreal linebacker Shea Emry made news this weekend by punching an opponent in the groin, but that shouldn't overshadow his fine season. He just has no chance of beating out either 1,000-yard rusher.

East pick: Shea Emry, Montreal.

West pick: Jon Cornish, Calgary

Winner should be: Cornish

Most outstanding rookie

This one is so easy to pick, the undecided U.S. voter could make it. With 1,105 receiving yards, Bombers freshman Chris Matthews is already the winner.

East pick: Chris Matthews, Winnipeg.

West pick: Jabar Westerman, B.C.

Winner should be: Matthews.

Most outstanding special teams player

This was another two-horse race, although it's now clear who the winner should be. At the midway point of the season, Toronto's Chad Owens had a good case despite not putting up TD numbers like Williams' record-breaking six return majors. With Owens suffering fumbleitis lately, Williams wins easily. Calgary's Rene Paredes has been nothing short of amazing in his sophomore season as well, but he's got no chance.

East pick: Chris Williams, Hamilton.

West pick: Rene Paredes, Calgary.

Winner should be: Williams.

Most outstanding defensive player

Whoever wins the West, wins it all. Whoever gets the nominee from B.C. has a good chance, too. It will be either Keron Williams (sack leader) or Adam Bighill (playmaking linebacker) from the Lions to face Calgary's Charleston Hughes and Edmonton's J.C. Sherritt. All four are deserving.

East pick: Shea Emry, Montreal.

West pick: Keron Williams, B.C.

Winner should be: Williams.

Most outstanding lineman

This is always the toughest category for voters, and reputation goes a long way towards winning. That being said, it's about time Calgary's Dimitri Tsoumpas gets recognized for his solid play. He's the only lineman to play every game for the Stamps this season, and he's anchored a young group.

East pick: Josh Bourke, Montreal.

West pick: Dimitri Tsoumpas, Calgary.

Winner should be: Tsoumpas.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby


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