Argonauts' four tops

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Call them the Four Oarsmen of the Argonauts.

Quarterback Damon Allen, linebackers Kevin Eiben and Michael Fletcher and punter/place kicker Noel Prefontaine were named yesterday as finalists for the Canadian Football League awards to be handed out the week of the Grey Cup, on Nov. 27 in Vancouver.

"That's awesome," Allen said of having four Argos represented.

"I'm more excited about those guys."

Added Fletcher: "To have four guys on the same team (up for awards), I think it's great."

"It's an honour to come out of the East," Prefontaine said, "and an honour to come out with three of my teammates."

This is the first time the Argos have placed four finalists for the awards, which have grown since they were introduced in 1953 with only the outstanding player being recognized.

In 1997, the Argos were represented by quarterback Doug Flutie (outstanding player), centre Mike Kiselak (outstanding lineman) and receiver Derrell Mitchell (outstanding rookie), who pulled off a sweep.

HOLMES TIMES TWO

Allen is up for the outstanding player against Saskatchewan's all-purpose running back/receiver Corey Holmes, who is also a finalist for the outstanding special teams player. His competition is Prefontaine.

Fletcher faces Calgary linebacker John Grace for the outstanding defensive player. Grace placed as the runner-up last year.

Eiben is a finalist for the second consecutive year for outstanding canadian, his competition B.C.'s Brent Johnson, a Kingston native.

This is the first time Allen is a finalist for any post-season individual award in his 21-year career in the Canadian Football League. Allen, who is the favourite to win, had his best season, throwing for 5,082 yards.

Holmes led the league with 3,455 all-purpose yards.

"I think all of us understand how important a part Damon Allen is in what we do and why he should be the (outstanding player) of the league," Argos head coach Pinball Clemons said last week.

Fletcher, who does a regular column for The Toronto Sun during the CFL season, finished fifth overall in the league with 87 defensive tackles and had five sacks. Graced had 76 defensive tackles.

"I'm jumping up and down inside (about the nomination), but I'm trying to keep my cool on the outside," Fletcher said.

Eiben placed second in the league with a personal-best 113 defensive tackles, but faces stiff competition from Johnson, who recorded four sacks in his final game to lead the league with 16. He is the only Canadian-born player in the CFL who is an every-down player at rush end, a position normally manned by an American.

Prefontaine finished second in the league with a 45.2 punting average and placed third in scoring with 160 points.

Montreal backup defensive back Matthieu Proulx and Winnipeg defensive end Gavin Walls are the finalists for outstanding rookie.

Montreal's Scott Flory and Saskatchewan's Gene Makowsky are the finalists for the outstanding offensive lineman. Makowsky won the award last year.


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