CFL 2012: Welcome Back, Canadian Football League!
Today marked the final game of the opening week for the Canadian Football League as the Calgary Stampeders defeated the Montreal Alouettes 38-10.
The long offseason came to an end as the CFL made its return during Canada Day weekend which saw all the Western teams defeat all the Eastern teams.
There were a lot of story lines as the weekend began, ranging from Ricky Ray's new start in Toronto after being traded from Edmonton for Steven Jyles over to Geroy Simon's opportunity to take over as the league's all-time receiving leader.
The weekend started with a Friday night double header that saw Hamilton host the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home for their final season at Ivor Wynne Stadium and the party was spoiled early on as Saskatchewan routed Hamilton 43-16 behind 390 passing yards and four touchdowns by quarterback Darian Durant.
Durant entered the season coming off a 5-13 season where he threw for 3,653 yards, 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. There were some questions surrounding Saskatchewan following last season when they went out and acquired coveted free-agents Dominic Picard and Brendan LaBatte while drafting Ben Heenan to add to their offensive line.
For Hamilton, it was a new start for Henry Burris who was traded to Hamilton in exchange for Kevin Glenn ending Burris' tenure with Calgary. It will be a new beginning of sorts for Burris who looks refreshed and ready for a new season with Hamilton.
Running back Kory Sheets was a newcomer on the field making his debut with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and made the most of his opportunity, rushing for 80 yards and one touchdown and adding 43 yards through the air.
One of the offensive players of the week had to have been Weston Dressler who stole the show catching 13 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Getzlaf was no slouch either, with three receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown.
For Hamilton, Chris Williams continued on following his rookie of the year award last season notching nine catches for 109 yards. Chevon Walker made his debut for Hamilton after the club made Avon Cobourne a healthy scratch, rushing for 132 yards on seven carries and one touchdown. Cobourne's future with the club could be questioned if Walker continues his play.
Andy Fantuz made his debut for the Black and Gold after signing with the Tiger Cats in the off-season in a less than stellar debut with five catches for 49 yards.
Moving down West the B.C. Lions opened their 2012 contest with a 99th Grey Cup rematch against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and continued exactly where they left off a season ago.
Quarterback Travis Lulay looked like he was already in midseason form finishing the night with 233 yards behind 17 completions on 25 attempts, one touchdown and one interception which was on a Hail Mary to end the second quarter.
The major story in that game for Winnipeg featured the offensive line who had just one returning veteran in Steve Morley starting and that inexperience was exposed big time with the quarterbacks struggling to get time to allow plays to develop or make any attempt at a running game.
Another unfortunate injury saw Buck Pierce removed from the game just before half-time with what was labelled a lower-body injury. Pierce has struggled to finish a full season, but did well last season.
For B.C., they were able to award receiver Geroy Simon with his new title as the league's all-time leading receiver passing Milt Stegall's record of 15,154 yards late in the game.
Simon has spent 13 seasons in the CFL playing for both Winnipeg and B.C. and have had a very successful career including two Grey Cup championships.
Saturday evening saw the Edmonton Eskimos welcome back Ricky Ray as a visitor with the Toronto Argonauts.
Both quarterbacks came in under new offenses and will likely need a few weeks to get organized with their new playbooks as each team struggled, combining for 15 punts with Toronto having eight of those under Ricky Ray.
Grant Shaw was up against Noel Prefontaine and made the most of his night connecting on all four of his attempts while Prefontaine struggled connecting on just two of his four kicks.
In the end, both teams had their shots but were unable to get points on the board even behind Adarius Bowman's 110 yards for Edmonton or Chad Owens 100 yards receiving for Toronto.
The final game that ended the season's kick-off had the 2008 Grey Cup rematch on showcase as the Calgary Stampeders hosted the Montreal Alouettes.
Anthony Calvillo struggled out of the gate, having two punts and a forced fumble in the first quarter with Calvillo throwing for 19 yards after completing three of his first six passes.
Is it possible that age has finally caught up with Calvillo after all these years? We have barely witnessed Montreal struggling offensively ever but never like their start on Sunday.
The exact opposite was going on for Drew Tate and the offense behind Jon Cornish being pushed into the leading role following Joffrey Reynold's release. Cornish rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns, adding 28 yards receiving for 114 all-purpose yards in his first full season as a starter.
Defensively the Stampeders continued to make plays with Keenan MacDougall scooping up a forced fumble by Juwan Simpson and Charleston Hughes adding a sack.
Will Either B.C. or Winnipeg Make It Back To The Grey Cup?
Not often can you say that you've held Anthony Calvillo to just under 100 yards passing after a full half but the Calgary Stampeders were able to pull that off, including just one touchdown.
Overall and although it is only week one, it's tough to not say that Calgary is giving B.C. a run for their money at being the team to beat in the West, possibly the league.
Offensive Player of the Week: Darian Durant came into the season and made a statement early against the Hamilton Tiger Cats throwing for 390 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions after finishing the 2011 season 5-13.
Defensive Player of the Week: Bryant Turner moved into the position vacated by retired Doug Brown and will attempt to hold the defensive line together. Turner on Friday night recorded four tackles and three sacks for his team.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Grant Shaw helped propel his team to victory on Saturday connecting on all four of his field goal attempts when the offense was unable to convert touchdowns.
Canadian Player of the Week: Jon Cornish started his first season with the Calgary Stampeders annotated as the starting running back and made the most of his opportunity rushing for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
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