Best, worst of first half

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

The first half of the CFL campaign is officially over, and it's time to hand out some mid-season awards.

Some of the categories are serious, while others ... not so much. Without further adieu, here they are:

WORST START TO THE SEASON: The Bombers win the first award for giving up a kickoff return touchdown to Saskatchewan's Corey Holmes on their first play of 2005.

BEST USE OF BEADS: Ottawa Renegades president Lonie Glieberman, who is no boob when it comes to gimmicks, captures the award for just trying to have a little fun and attract a younger audience to Frank Clair Stadium.

It was called Mardi Gras Madness, and the premise was a simple tit-for-tat.

Every male entering the upper deck of the south-side grandstand received beads that could be worn as a necklace. The female who collected the most beads by the end of the game won $1,000.

"Who knows? You could wind up giving beads to your future wife," Glieberman noted to the Ottawa Sun a few days before it debuted.

There was a cleavage in the Ottawa community, however, and now the party is over. The Renegades were forced to cancel the promotion last week.

MOST SHOCKING START: The Montreal Alouettes, who are 4-5. They were 14-4 last year.

LEAST SHOCKING START: The B.C. Lions, who are 9-0. This just in: They're good.

WORST GAME BROADCAST: CBC's coverage of the Toronto-Edmonton game on Aug. 20 wins by a landslide.

There were no announcers, thanks to the CBC lockout, and the management had a rough time working the cameras.

The game was kind of cool without announcers, but now it's just plain awful. Games need announcers.

It's time for the CBC to hand off the rest of the broadcasts to TSN or Sportsnet until the lockout is settled.

BEST RECEIVER OF ALL TIME TO GET RELEASED: Andre Rison, by the Toronto Argonauts.

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER -- SO FAR: Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson, who has completed an astounding 75.4% of his passes for 14 touchdowns against only three interceptions.

BEST LEFT HOOK: Argo receiver Robert Baker on teammate Noel Prefontaine -- during a game in Calgary on July 1.

BEST HIT: Once again it's Baker, for his demolition last week of Stampeder Trey Young. The hit, which forced a key fumble right after an interception, was the No. 1 play of the day on U.S. Sportscenter.

JEKYLL AND HYDE AWARD: The Saskatchewan Roughriders scoop up this one. They won three of their first four games but have now lost five in a row thanks to injuries to all the wrong people. Poor quarterbacking hasn't helped.

TOP 42-YEAR-OLD PLAYER: Argos quarterback Damon Allen.

BEST CONGREGATION OF QUARTERBACKS: The Lions are 9-0 and have used all three quarterbacks. Their No. 3 pivot, Buck Pierce, brought them back on Saturday for a win against the Roughriders. Wonder how long it will be before Pierce is in the running for MOP?

AROUND THE LEAGUE...

B.C. LIONS

- Third-string QB Buck Pierce was unemployed and living in California when he read on the Internet that the Lions were having a free-agent camp in Portland, Ore. Pierce drove five hours, and the rest is history.

CALGARY STAMPEDERS

- The Red and White are getting some good news on the injury front; both C Jamie Crysdale and DB Joey Boese are expected back for Monday's Labour Day home game against the Eskimos.

EDMONTON ESKIMOS

- WR Brock Ralph, who was cut by the New York Jets on Sunday and turned down a practice roster spot, rejoined the Esks yesterday. He had 49 receptions for 634 yards last season as the fifth receiver.

HAMILTON TIGER-CATS

- When QB Danny McManus completed 20 of 29 passes Friday night against the Bombers, it represented his second-best completion percentage in a game during the past three seasons.

MONTREAL ALOUETTES

- Poor Don Matthews. Rookie DB Taqiy Muhammad got lit up against the Eskimos, just as rookie DB D.J. Johnson did in the 2003 Grey Cup when he replaced current Bomber Omar Evans.

OTTAWA RENEGADES

- Hank Ilesic, who has been retired for four years and will turn 46 on Sept. 7, will be the team's punter on Friday night against the Alouettes. Pat Fleming and Matt Kellett are both hurt.

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

- Head coach Danny Barrett will stick with QB Nealon Greene for the Labour Day Classic ... DE Daved Benefield, whose wife was due to give birth on Sunday, was prepared to leave Saturday's game if she went into labour.

TORONTO ARGONAUTS

- Head coach Pinball Clemons figures KR Bashir Levingston ran about 200 yards by the time he finished returning a missed field goal for a touchdown last Wednesday. Officially, it was 111 yards.


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