Cornish embraces chase for Canadian rushing record over Kwong

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish carries the ball against the BC Lions in CFL action at McMahon...

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish carries the ball against the BC Lions in CFL action at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, on October 26, 2012. (MIKE DREW/QMI AGENCY)

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:13 PM ET

CALGARY - Jon Cornish's pursuit of history has been an uneasy journey.

The Calgary Stampeders running back has never been one to shy away from the spotlight.

But this season's never-ending questions about chasing down Normie Kwong's record has, at times, taken its toll on the first-year starter.

But with that D-Day arriving Friday in Edmonton, Cornish said he's now able to enjoy the moment.

"I'm pretty excited to do it," Cornish said of breaking Kwong's 56-year-old mark for rushing yards in a single season by a Canadian.

"It's something that everybody's been talking about for so long. Now that I'm right there, it's starting to dawn on me that this is a pretty difficult achievement.

"When you're just trying to play and everyone else is talking about it, you're not really focused on it. But now that it's definitely well within reach, it's something I'm excited about."

The New Westminster, B.C., product needs 50 yards to eclipse the China Clipper.

Kwong churned out 1,437 yards in 1956. Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers back Gerry James gave it a shot the following year, finishing with 1,192 yards, but nobody has come close to the record for more than five decades.

"It has stood for a long time, and I'm beginning to see why," said Cornish, who will turn 28 Monday.

"It's hard to get yards in the CFL. And as a Canadian, it's hard to get on the field.

"Having those two things go hand in hand for this record, it's exciting."

Cornish couldn't have hand-picked a better opponent to break the record against.

He has ran all over the Eskimos this season.

Nearly one-third (436) of his 1,388 yards has come at the expense of the Esks, including single-game explosions of 185 and 180 yards.

"They're going to be geared up to stop me," Cornish said. "We've played three games against each other -- four if you count the pre-season.

"But if we come out and do what we can, I think it will work out quite well."

Stamps head coach John Hufnagel's biggest concern is seeing how his quarterbacks perform prior to naming his starter for the playoffs, but he appears committed to giving Cornish however many carries he needs to set a new standard.

"I would like to see him have a great opportunity to get that record," Hufnagel said.

"If it happens, great. If it doesn't, it's not the most important thing of the day."

Cornish has also all but wrapped up the league rushing crown.

He has a seemingly insurmountable 145-yard lead over Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Kory Sheets and will become the first non-import to top the rushing charts since Ottawa's Orville Lee did it in 1988.

scott.fisher@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNScottFisher


Photos