CALGARY - LaMarcus Coker was caught flat-footed and hit hard.
At least it wasn’t during a game, but the blow left a bad taste in his mouth.
“My mouth was open,” said the Calgary Stampeders running back. “Yuck.”
On a day when the Stamps officially put another veteran on the bench but welcomed one back, they ‘honoured’ their rookie class.
As is tradition, elder statesmen Henry Burris gave a speech about the rookie-of-the year-award and how the winner would get a flight to wherever he wants courtesy of WestJet (which is all a ruse).
Just as Arjei Franklin was about to reveal the name of the winner … smack — Coker got a shaving-cream pie in the face.
“All of us had our trip planned out,” Coker said. “They did a thing with (six) finalists, and (safety Demetrice) Morley wasn’t one of them. I started to think it was a prank.
“When Hank had the trophy, I thought this was real. They caught me with my mouth open.”
Even that couldn’t dampen Coker’s enthusiasm Thursday. After missing two games with a high-ankle sprain, the freshman from Tennessee gets the call in place of fellow running back Joffrey Reynolds.
While Reynolds is out, Ken-Yon Rambo is in. The receiver takes back his slot position from Landan Talley and is pumped to play for the first time since Sept. 17 against the B.C. Lions.
It’s obviously a difficult blow to Reynolds, who spent four games on the sidelines before Coker was injured during a loss in Toronto.
The veteran will stay ready and focused if he’s needed in the post-season, but if the Stamps do win the Grey Cup and he’s not on the field, it would be difficult for him.
“It wouldn’t mean as much,” said Reynolds, who had five carries for 19 yards in the two outings. “I want to be part of the team and to help it win. I would have to say it wouldn’t mean as much to me as the first one (2008). This is sports. Stranger things have happened to other players.”
The Stamps had a large group to recognize as first-year contributors. Players such as kicker Rene Paredes, defensive lineman Junior Turner, linebacker Akwasi Antwii and safety Demetrice Morley have been valuable members of the team.
There has been a lot of turnover with veterans, as Drew Tate took over for Burris at quarterback, Cornish became the starter for Reynolds and Morley replaced the since-traded Milt Collins.
“When this rookie class came in, I thought it was one of the more talented ones we’ve had,” Burris said. “A lot of guys have done some big things and been asked to step into some big shoes.
“Kudos to those guys because they’ve worked hard and got better as the season has progressed.”
On Wednesday, Morley was named the team’s nominee for West Division most outstanding rookie, but somehow he managed to avoid the shaving-cream pie.
“I saw something out of the corner of my eye,” Morley said. “It was (Brandon Isaac), and I knew something was up.
“It’s like being on the football field — I felt something out of my blindside and my spidey senses were tingling. I looked, and I ducked. He kinda missed me, but the guys eventually got me.”
Coker came out of the gates well with the Stamps, scoring a 75-yard touchdown against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Sept. 25 on his first offensive play. The 25-year-old’s anxious to get back on track after the injury.
“I felt like that Toronto game (Oct 14.) was the week to get going,” Coker said. “I sprained my ankle on the opening kickoff, and I was trying to fight through it the whole game.
“I’m still trying to get into the swing of things and catch that rhythm.
“This is the perfect time to find it.”
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby