Accolades 'bittersweet'

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Great joy could have been brought to the Renegades yesterday.

Instead, revelations of the team nominees for the CFL's annual player awards were greeted with the same resignation and muted emotion that they have been during the first two years of the franchise.

Running back Josh Ranek learned at the end of yesterday's practice that he had been named the team's outstanding player nominee, but he accepted the news with minimal enthusiasm.

"The season, both as a team and individually, didn't go the way we wanted to. I don't know. It's kind of bittersweet," said Ranek.

The failure of the Renegades to qualify for the playoffs, especially after a promising 3-0 start, continues to burrow in the minds of the players as they prepare for the final game of the season, Saturday afternoon at Frank Clair Stadium vs. Hamilton.

IN A TAILSPIN

Since winning their first three, the Renegades went into a tailspin and are 5-12 heading into the finale.

The award nominees also include Kelly Wiltshire (outstanding Canadian and top defensive player), George Hudson (lineman) and Jason Armstead (special teams and rookie).

"It's a little bit more disappointing because of the way the season went," said Wiltshire, who continued a three-year streak of being named the team's top Canadian. He also got the nomination as top defender for the second year in a row.

"I've been nominated and I've been an all-star, but my fondest memory is winning a Grey Cup because you win it as a team," said Wiltshire, who won the Cup with Toronto in 1997.

'GLOOMY' SEASON

Ranek, playing his third year in Ottawa, held the league's rushing lead for most of the first half of the season, but his totals deteriorated while the team struggled and the offensive line crumbled in front of him.

Ranked seventh in league rushing, he needs 29 yards to break the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.

"l think we started off strong, but then we kind of fizzled out," said Ranek. "To me, it's disappointing. We want to finish off strong and do what we can to not make the season seem so gloomy."

Ranek leads the team with 10 touchdowns and ranks second on the Renegades with 667 receiving yards. He and Yo Murphy have 57 catches, tops on the club.

Ranek is up against Montreal QB Anthony Calvillo, Toronto LB Kevin Eiben and Hamilton RB Troy Davis for the East Division nomination for the league's most outstanding player award, to be presented during next month's Grey Cup Festival at the Casino du Lac Leamy.

Armstead, in the outstanding rookie category, likely has the best chance of all Renegades nominees at a national award. Montreal CB Almondo Curry, Toronto OG Jonathan Landon and OG Wayne Smith of Hamilton received the rookie nominations in their respective cities.


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