J.C. Sherritt goes where no player has since '94
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Eskimos J.C. Sherritt broke the 129-tackle standard Friday night set by Calvin Tiggle with the Toronto Argonauts 18 years ago. (PERRY MAH/QMI AGENCY)
J.C. Sherritt did something no CFL player has done since 1994: set a new single-season tackle record.
And he did it Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium, in the last game of the regular season.
With his mom in the stands.
The Edmonton Eskimos middle linebacker made back-to-back stops on Calgary Stampeders backup running back Matt Walter on the last drive of the game to tie and then break the 129-tackle standard set by Calvin Tiggle with the Toronto Argonauts 18 years ago.
"As I said to the guys, J.C. Sherritt embodies what the Edmonton Eskimos are about," Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed said following the game. "He's a class act on and off the field. He approaches this game the way it is supposed to be approached.
"He is a gentleman. He is a scholar. He's passionate about football, but he is a very respectful individual and he deserved to have that record."
His coaches weren't the only ones who thought so, either.
"You could see it on the sideline when I came off," Sherritt said. "My teammates were hyping me, telling me how many more I needed, and that just signified what they did all year.
"There's a lot of people that took bullets so I could scrape to the ball and make plays, and they did that all year for me."
But Sherritt wasn't the only Eskimos linebacker to put up significant numbers this season. Damaso Munoz finished in the top-five with 88, while T.J. Hill's 80 ranked in the top-10.
Sherritt entered Friday's game needing all 11 of his tackles to set the record, and that's just what he did, earning 11 for the third time in his two-year career and setting the bar even higher for the next one.
"Yeah," Sherritt agreed, smiling. "That's OK."
But Sherritt's body has been paying the price for going through its record-setting pace this season, as the five-foot-nine, 218-pound tackling machine hobbled noticeably to the sideline after a short celebration with his fellow defenders on the field.
"He's fine," Reed said. "That's the way he's been the last seven weeks. He's a gamer.
"He's going to make certain that he rests his body and gets back to preparation."
That goes for both getting over injury and the triumphant record -- a goal he had to try and play down over the weeks leading up to Friday's game -- in order to focus on the post-season ahead.
"Today, I will admit I did look at the tackles because every time I came off the field I was reminded of where it's at," he said. "Next week, I could care less how many tackles I get.
"I just want to walk away a winner."
But the 24 year old doesn't need any CFL records -- or a Grey Cup, for that matter -- to be a winner in the eyes of his mother, Deb Sherritt, who was up from Pullman, Wash., to watch her third Eskimos game in person on Friday.
"She made it up," J.C. said. "She was debating all week whether to do it and she made a last-minute call and she was in the crowd."
Of course, at the time the Eskimos had it all on the line and were still fighting for their playoff lives.
"When she made the decision to come, we didn't know who was going to win," said Sherritt, whose Eskimos landed in a playoff spot once the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lost on Thursday. "It was really cool to have her here for that and she's been a trooper like that since I was 10 years old.
"Now, she misses more (games) because I'm so far away, but she's been to Texas, North Carolina, she's been all over the country to support me. Her and my dad, that's how they've been my whole life."
Immediately following the interview, J.C. placed a call to his father, Billy, in Bend, Ore.
"They could care less whether I get awards or not," he said. "They just want me to be healthy and have fun."