Awards, schmawards

The Stamps have announced their nominations for this season's CFL Awards. Getting the nod were,...

The Stamps have announced their nominations for this season's CFL Awards. Getting the nod were, from left, linebacker John Grace (defensive player), o-lineman Jay McNeil (lineman), quarterback Henry Burris (most outstanding player), d-lineman Sheldon Napastuk (Canadian) and placekicker Sandro DeAngelis (rookie and special teams). (Calgary Sun/Jack Cusano)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

The annual CFL player award nominations yesterday created barely a ripple on the surface of the Calgary Stampeders and Tom Higgins wouldn't want it any other way.

The stoic head coach gathered his troops at mid-field at the conclusion of practice to announce the four nominees. Each name was met with a resounding cheer from teammates but that's where the fanfare ended.

"Keeping our priorities in order is a reason we might have a chance," said the first-year Stamps boss, whose 10-7 club is preparing for its first playoff berth since 2001.

"They're focused and that's very important.

"The coaching staff has done a great job all year. Your mindset is the most important thing now because the difference that separates teams is the fewest mental mistakes. That wins football games in the playoffs."

Quarterback Henry Burris earned the team nomination as most outstanding player while placekicker Sandro DeAngelis received the nod for both rookie of the year and top special teams player. Veteran guard Jay McNeil was named the team's lineman nominee for the fourth time while linebacker John Grace is the defensive nominee and nose tackle Sheldon Napastuk earned his first outstanding Canadian nod.

The muted reaction was in contrast to the last three seasons when the Stampeders were out of playoff contention by mid-season with individual player awards providing a silver lining to a miserable campaign.

Now everyone in Stamps camp is shrugging off the recognition while the only silver living in sight is inside the Grey Cup.

"This nomination wouldn't mean anything to me without a Grey Cup championship," said Burris, who signed as a free agent in the off-season and has been the key ingredient in the team's revival this season.

"That's what we're driving for this year. I'm thankful to be nominated yet that's the last thing on my mind."

Napastuk's first nomination was the only unanimous selection. The third-year Stampeder is tied for the team lead with eight sacks.

"To get that award you have to be working in a good unit and everybody on this defence is putting out to make us as successful as we are," Napastuk said.

For Grace, it is his second consecutive nomination as top defensive player for which he was the West finalist last season.

DeAngelis, the team's only double nominee, has been a revelation this season posting the CFL's second-best field-goal percentage although he's not convinced he'll walk away with any hardware.

"I'm just really glad to be a nominee," said DeAngelis, 24.

McNeil's nomination is an annual goal for the 12-year Stamps veteran.

Division winners along with CFL all-star awards will be announced Wednesday.

Final awards will be presented Grey Cup week in Vancouver.


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