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Kory Sheets was a very welcome addition to the Roughriders backfield this season. The first-year CFLer was among the league leaders in rushing all season long and finished with 1,277 yards. Darian Durant had an up-and-down season but was helped by fan favourite Weston Dressler, who elevated his game another level, putting up career-high numbers in the receiving game.
Jon Cornish put together an historic season carrying the mail for Calgary; setting a single season rushing record for Canadian tailbacks and likely garnering serious consideration for the Most Outstanding Player award. Kevin Glenn meanwhile, did a terrific job manning the ship in the absence of Drew Tate. But with Tate fully recovered from injury, he now gets the call in the playoffs.
As last year’s West Division nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player Jerrell Freeman was lighting up the stat sheets with tackles in the NFL, this year’s Roughriders defence came together as a committee to replace his production. Saskatchewan’s defensive unit didn’t miss a beat, finishing second in the league in points allowed.
The Stampeders’ defence has been one of the league’s top units all season long. The group is led by Charleston Hughes, who finished second in the league in sacks, establishing himself among the best defensive linemen in the CFL, and Keon Raymond, who finished tied for second in interceptions, once again proving he’s a top DBs.
Kicker Sandro DeAngelis was brought in mid-season and, save for a couple big late-season misses on field goal attempts, was solid in replacing the injured Chris Milo. Tristan Jackson didn’t make the headlines that a Chad Owens or Chris Williams did, but still produced a very solid year returning kicks.
Rene Paredes, rather quietly, has put together one of the most impressive seasons by a kicker in CFL history. Parades connected on 37 of 40 field goal attempts, good for a success rate of 92.5%, less than 2% off Paul McCallum’s single season record of 94.3% set a year ago with the BC Lions.
Dressler always seems to come up big when Durant needs him most. The more plays Dressler can make for his QB, the better rhythm Durant will get in.
Sheets navigated CFL waters with aplomb in his first year. If he can do the same in his first post-season, a big game would set the tempo for the offence.
A number of different players stepped up on defence at various points during the year. They’ll need someone, anyone, to do it again in the playoffs.
Tate, getting the call at QB over Glenn for the Western Semi-Final, had better start strong. A slow start could mean fans chanting for the backup, rarely a good situation.
If Cornish can carry over his stellar regular season play into the playoffs, that arguably gives Calgary an advantage over every other team.
In close games, a kicker’s importance is even greater. The Stamps shouldn't be afraid to use Parades, one of the most accurate kickers in the league.
The Big Man finished Week 19 at 1-3, bringing his regular season picks record to 39-33, three games better than the World.
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As always, it's Your! Call.