Burris hands off credit

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Known for being fleet-footed, Henry Burris took the first step to becoming the top player in the CFL yesterday.

The Calgary Stampeders quarterback is his team's nominee for the league's most outstanding player award for the third time in four seasons in Red and White.

The next hurdle comes a week from now when the West Division nominees are announced, and barring something drastic happening, Burris should be getting an invite to the players awards ceremony just days before the Grey Cup in Montreal.

Burris is enjoying a career year in which he is putting up his best totals for yardage and passing TDs while cutting out the turnovers that plagued him in the past.

His team has already won 12 games, which is the most since 2000, when Dave Dickenson won the most outstanding player award.

"I believe Hank has an excellent shot," said Stamps head coach John Hufnagel. "He's done a tremendous job for us this year. I keep repeating myself.

"Every time he's been on the field to finish the game, he's put his team in position to be able to win. That's all you can ask for from your quarterback. He manages the game really well and his great athleticism allows us to do some great things on offence."

Facing Burris for the West Division nod will be B.C. Lions defensive end Cam Wake, Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray and Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Wes Cates.

Wake is also up for most outstanding defensive player, and he should easily win that award. Voters will have to decide if a defensive player should take both honours.

Among Wake's 20 quarterback sacks, seven came against the last-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while he only recorded one in four games against division leaders Calgary and Montreal.

Meanwhile, Burris is the leader of the CFL's top team and has a 7-4 record against teams with a winning record.

With one game remaining, the Stamps offence boasts the league's top rusher (Joffrey Reynolds) and receiver (Ken-Yon Rambo), but none of the offensive players would be as successful without Burris.

"He's the leader on our entire team, whether that would be offence, defence or special teams," said centre Rob Lazeo, who is the Stamps nominee for top lineman.

"The guys really respect Hank because he goes to battle every week. To have him behind me calling the plays helps everybody out. I'm proud of him and all the other guys who were nominated."

For the fourth straight season, kicker Sandro DeAngelis is the Stamps' nominee for most outstanding special teams player. He won the CFL award in 2006.

Linebacker Shannon James is the team's top defensive player for the second straight year. He is tied for the team lead in defensive tackles (66) and is first in forced fumbles (four).

Defensive end Mike Labinjo is the top Canadian in just his second season with the team, while right guard Dimitri Tsoumpas is the top rookie.

As always, Burris was humbled by his selection, especially when asked about being the favourite in the division.

"When it was announced, I quickly look to the guys who are out there with me," Burris said. "I have to give thanks to them and my family for the sacrifices they make every year to allow me to play.

"This is more for the guys up front and the guys around me, because they are the ones who make the plays. I just have to make decisions and get the ball in their hands.

"I'm still all about winning the championship, because a team award is better than an individual award.

"But it's still good to see guys being recognized for the great seasons they've been having."


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