Time to rank Hank tops

Henry Burris' play has helped three other Stamps offensive players become all-stars in the West....

Henry Burris' play has helped three other Stamps offensive players become all-stars in the West. (Sun Media/Lyle Aspinall)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

Henry Burris picked up two more honours yesterday, and the Calgary Stampeders quarterback should expect more in the next few weeks.

Burris was a no-brainer to be named a West Division all-star, which was announced yesterday, and he also picked up the CFLPA player of the month award for October.

But the real telling sign as to whether the voters were paying attention this season will come today when the divisional nominees for outstanding player awards come out.

There is no debate Burris is the top player on the CFL's best team, which should make him a shoo-in to represent the West as most outstanding player at the CFL player awards Nov. 20 in Montreal.

A year ago, there was still debate about whether the 33-year-old from Spiro, Okla., would ever develop into an elite quarterback.

That was when Burris was at the helm of a sloppy, turnover-laden bunch that bowed out in the first round of the playoffs.

This season, with virtually the same group aside from a reworked offensive line and new head coach, Burris put up a career high in yards (5,094), touchdown passes (39) and passer rating (103.8).

"With what our offence did, we have so many great hard-working guys that I'm just a piece of the puzzle," said the ever-humble Burris yesterday. "I just have to make good decisions and get the ball to the right guy at the right time."

Burris' play has helped three other Stamps offensive players become all-stars in the West. Running back Joffrey Reynolds picked up his fourth straight honour, while receiver Ken-Yon Rambo and centre Rob Lazeo earned their first all-star awards. Cornerback Brandon Browner and kicker Sandro DeAngelis also were named to the West team.

When competition has got tougher, Burris has taken his play to another level this season. In games against winning teams, Burris led the Stamps to an 8-3 record and his passer rating is solid at 101.7.

Compared to the quarterback who should be his competition for this award, Alouettes veteran Anthony Calvillo, Burris has a better record, despite the Montreal pivot's great comeback story.

Calvillo is just 3-4 with a 99.4 passer rating against winning teams, while he is 8-2 with a 112.1 rating against the rest.

Burris also beat Calvillo twice head-to-head.

All of Burris' success comes from cutting down on interceptions and fumbles. In years past, Burris wouldn't be able to do that. For the longest time, he would have flashes of brilliance mixed in with boneheaded mistakes. He doesn't have head-slappers anymore.

Do you give the credit to new head coach John Hufnagel? Doesn't offensive co-ordinator George Cortez deserve plenty of praise for the job he's done?

Burris himself deserves the kudos for heeding advice, maturing and realizing his potential that has been talked about since he arrived in Calgary way back in 1997.

"It's a progression that happens for every quarterback," Burris said. "You have to go through some lows to get to the highs.

"All those times I failed have allowed me to be successful. Between last year and this year, I wanted to keep getting better. If you look at our team, I'm not asked to do as much as I thought I needed to try to do out there.

"We're a much better team in all three phases. We pick each other up and we don't do things that will hurt ourselves.

"As for not making those mistakes anymore, it all comes from things I learned from in the past."

Now the immediate future looks bright, for Burris and the Stampeders.


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