November 21, 2012
Ticats' Williams up for special teams honour
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Chris Williams had an amazing season, and it would have been even more stunning if he had not eased up on what would have been a seventh return touchdown.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver/returner was racing towards the end zone, completely home free on a punt return in late July against Montreal, but he started slowing down around the 15-yard line. Brian Ridgeway didn’t give up his pursuit and brought down the hot-dogging Williams at the one-yard line.
Williams was sheepish in the days following the play (he even apologized to the Alouettes for his showboating), but he more than made up for it the rest of the way. He finished the season with a league-record six return touchdowns and is a solid bet to be named the league’s top special teams player on Thursday night when the Gibson’s Finest CFL Player Awards are held in downtown Toronto.
Williams scored five touchdowns on punt returns and added another on a missed field goal this season, breaking the record of five that was set twice by Gizmo Williams and Bashir Levingston, and once by Keith Stokes. Chris Williams is a good bet to beat B.C. Lions kick returner Tim Brown, the West Division nominee, in voting conducted by the Football Reporters of Canada.
“It’s been a good year for me from a personal standpoint, obviously having a pretty good season, setting some records and just doing some good things on and off the field,” Williams said Wednesday at the Royal York Hotel. “But as a team we really struggled and I’m not happy to be sitting here right now as opposed to getting ready to play in this game on Sunday.”
It’s not surprising to hear Williams talk about the team, because it’s his teammates that he praised for his remarkable season returning kicks for the Tabbies.
“Those guys gave tremendous effort all year long, and it was my pleasure to put the number where it’s at,” Williams said. “I wish we could’ve got a couple more and make it really stand out, but it’ll work.”
B.C. Lions right tackle Jovan Olafioye is the West’s most outstanding offensive lineman nominee for the second year in a row, and he must like his chances against Montreal left tackle Josh Bourke when you consider how well he protected Travis Lulay this season.
“I gave up one (sack) this year,” Olafioye said, “and there were none last year.” The only player to beat Olafioye was Calgary defensive end Charleston Hughes, who brought down Mike Reilly in a game at McMahon Stadium on Oct. 26.
Stamps running back Jon Cornish and Montreal Alouettes linebacker Shea Emry are both up for two awards. Cornish will battle Toronto’s Chad Owens for the most outstanding player, and he’s also up against Emry for the top Canadian honour.
Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who broke the CFL’s tackle record this season, is up for defensive player of the year against Emry, while Winnipeg receiver Chris Matthews should win the rookie of the year award over B.C. defensive tackle Jabar Westerman.