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Johnny Manziel named’s top newsmaker of 2018

Johnny Manziel named's top newsmaker of 2018

TORONTO — Love him or hate him, Johnny Manziel was the centre of consideration within the Canadian Soccer League in 2018.

On Saturday, the Montreal Alouettes’ quarterback was named’s Newsmaker of the Yr, because the third annual year-end awards have been voted on by seven writers.

“I don’t assume there was a narrative that drove the CFL by way of the low season and into the season like Johnny Manziel,” stated Jamie Nye. “Whereas he didn’t wow anybody together with his means, there was not often every week that Manziel wasn’t within the headlines. Properly … till the playoffs.”

From a summer time blockbuster commerce to his depressing CFL debut, followers couldn’t cease speaking about Johnny Soccer this season, however he wasn’t the one one. Bo Levi Mitchell, Travis Lulay and Lewis Ward have been amongst different gamers who made their mark in 2018 in a season of record-breaking achievements, dramatic comebacks and last-second victories.

As we welcome the beginning of a brand new yr on Tuesday,’s writers and employees voted on year-end accolades for eight main classes: Newsmaker, Individual, Story, Comeback, Breakout Star, One-Recreation Efficiency, Recreation and Canadian.

Let’s look again on the perfect of 2018 (and even some honourable mentions) within the eyes of our writers:



Photograph: Johany Jutras/

The numbers would recommend there was nothing exceptional in any respect about Johnny Manziel in 2018. The Alouettes’ quarterback, who was acquired mid-season earlier than shifting into and out of the beginning position, completed with 1,290 passing yards, 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in eight video games.

But when No. 2 took the sector, you couldn’t assist however watch.

“Whether or not you benefit from the Manziel expertise or not, the man demanded extra headlines in 2018 than anybody else,” stated Marshall Ferguson.

“Robust to argue towards his choice,” added Don Landry. “If the class acknowledges the one that made probably the most waves within the CFL information cycle in 2018, Manziel matches the invoice completely and it isn’t actually shut.”

Manziel was by far probably the most consensus selection amongst this yr’s eight award winners, taking 5 of the seven votes.

Author Picks: Newsmaker of the Yr

Voter Choice
Jim Morris Johnny Manziel
Marshall Ferguson Johnny Manziel
Chris O’Leary Johnny Manziel
Don Landry Johnny Manziel
Matthew Cauz Bo Levi Mitchell
Pat Steinberg Bo Levi Mitchell
Jamie Nye Johnny Manziel

The previous Texas A&M star and NFL first-round draft decide ended a months-long contract standoff, signing with the Ticats in Might. In the summertime he was the centrepiece of a uncommon blockbuster deal, involving 5 gamers in complete and two first-round picks, sending Manziel to the Alouettes.

For all of the hype, the 26-year-old didn’t fairly ship. Manziel’s first profession begin was a spectacular wrestle, throwing 4 interceptions in a 50-11 loss to his former group. After struggling a concussion, he was changed by Antonio Pipkin, who took management of the beginning job and stored Manziel stapled to the bench for greater than a month.

It wasn’t till his seventh begin that Manziel would document his first win, nevertheless it’s value noting he improved alongside the best way, throwing 5 touchdowns towards simply two interceptions in his final 5 begins.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell took the opposite two votes because the honourable point out.

“Already with an MOP underneath his belt, Mitchell had the perfect common season of his stellar profession and added one other MOP nod,” stated Pat Steinberg. “He capped it off with a Gray Cup victory over Ottawa and is now making an attempt his hand south of the border. There weren’t very many greater newsmakers in 2018 than Bo.”

Final Yr’s Winner: Duron Carter



Photograph: The Canadian Press

It was the yr of the horse within the CFL, particularly one named Bo. Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s story went from considered one of missed alternative to considered one of redemption, deleting his Twitter account alongside the best way to the most effective season of his profession.

Mitchell checked off all three main bins for a CFL signal-caller, profitable Most Excellent Participant, Gray Cup MVP and the 106th Gray Cup introduced by Shaw.

“Bo Levi Mitchell was the Gray Cup MVP and the MOP of the league,” stated Nye. “He additionally threw for probably the most landing passes in a season that ended with the Calgary Stampeders on prime — and now we wait to see if he even returns in 2019 because the Mitchell-NFL watch takes us into the brand new yr. He was the perfect within the CFL in 2018.”

“I needed to be hipster and select Jeremiah Masoli contemplating the huge leap he made,” stated Matthew Cauz,” however in the long run to the victor goes the spoils.”

It was a troublesome name for the choice board, as Travis Lulay and Dave Dickenson shared two votes every together with Mitchell. However the tie-breaker went to Mitchell, who fended off his share of critics after dropping again to again Gray Cups and put his Stamps on prime.

Author Picks: Individual of the Yr

Voter Choice
Jim Morris Wally Buono
Marshall Ferguson Dave Dickenson
Chris O’Leary Wally Buono
Don Landry Rolly Lumbala
Matthew Cauz Bo Levi Mitchell
Pat Steinberg Dave Dickenson
Jamie Nye Bo Levi Mitchell

*Tie damaged by editor picks

Whereas Mitchell continues to fill his trophy case at simply 28 years years previous, it’s onerous to disregard Wally Buono’s farewell tour. The CFL’s all-time teaching wins chief spent his final season on the sideline, serving to the Lions overcome a Three-6 begin to return to the playoffs.

Buono just isn’t solely thought-about one of many CFL’s all-time nice coaches but in addition one of the revered.

“Palms up when you had the BC Lions making the playoffs in 2018,” stated Chris O’Leary. “Eleven weeks into the season the Lions have been Three-6 and everybody was prepared for them to fade into the background of the West. As an alternative, Wally Buono led the Lions to an unlikely playoff look in his ultimate season on a CFL sideline. He’d say a Gray Cup win would have been the right sendoff, however the one he constructed this yr was nonetheless a superb one.”

“Some athletes or coaches make an enormous deal of their farewell tour,” stated Jim Morris. “Sometimes Buono tried to shift the main target away from himself. His final information convention as head coach was humorous, unhappy, touching and trustworthy. I coated the information convention when Wally was named the Stampeders’ head coach and watched his farewell.”

One other head coach, Dave Dickenson, was additionally a part of the dialogue for’s Individual of the Yr.

“The top coach of the Stampeders led his staff to a different first general end, one other Western Remaining, and one other Gray Cup look,” stated Steinberg. “This time, although, Calgary completed issues off with a win as Dickenson is forging probably the greatest begins to a head teaching profession in CFL historical past.”

Final Yr’s Winner: Ricky Ray



Photograph: Dave Chidley/

There might by no means be one other story like Lewis Ward. Regardless of being an undrafted rookie, the REDBLACKS’ kicker set nearly each place kicking document within the league this yr, ending the season with two main trophies as Most Excellent Rookie and Particular Groups Participant.

Ward went from being a safety guard at TD Place to breaking Adam Vinatieri’s professional soccer document for consecutive area objectives, incomes the nod for’s Story of the Yr.

“It got here out of nowhere and made us all open our eyes to understand something is feasible,” stated Ferguson. “Even a child from Kingston can break an all-time soccer document and benefit from the hell out of doing it.”

“For me, I couldn’t consider what that kicker in Ottawa was doing week in and week out,” stated Nye. “Lewis Ward had a tremendous story of being the hometown child who was working safety on the stadium after which he does one thing no professional kicker has ever executed. WOW!”

Ward confronted stiff competitors for the excellence, edging Calgary’s Gray Cup Championship within the tie-breaker:

Author Picks: Story of the Yr

Voter Choice
Jim Morris Inconsistency
Marshall Ferguson Lewis Ward
Chris O’Leary Esks miss playoffs
Don Landry Stamps win Gray Cup
Matthew Cauz 5,000-yard passers
Pat Steinberg Stamps win Gray Cup
Jamie Nye Lewis Ward

*Tie damaged by editor picks

The Stampeders’ story of redemption didn’t go unnoticed. The Stamps erased their ghosts of Gray Cups previous in defiant trend, overcoming a seemingly countless damage record, surviving a late-season stoop and conquering the highly-competitive West en route their first championship since 2014.

“Not solely did the Stamps have the ghosts of 2016 and 2017 to deal with, that they had an unimaginable spate of accidents of their receiving corps to beat,” stated Landry. “They persevered and flipped the script, regardless that a late-season swoon had it wanting like they could come up brief once more.”

“It was the story all yr lengthy: might Calgary redeem a pair of heartbreaking Gray Cup losses,” added Steinberg.

Cauz voted for the 4 pivots who threw for five,000-plus yards in Jeremiah Masoli, Mike Reilly, Bo Levi Mitchell and Trevor Harris, whereas Morris stated inconsistency and unpredictability characterised the 2018 season. O’Leary voted for the demise of the 2018 Gray Cup host Edmonton Eskimos, who missed the playoffs in a yr many favoured them to contend.

“Groups like Edmonton and Winnipeg stumbled,” stated Morris. “The Tiger-Cats seemed like the perfect group within the East till they didn’t. The Lions might have completed second within the West however sunk to a cross-over staff.”

“It’s nonetheless arduous to wrap your head across the concept of the Esks lacking the playoffs in a yr that they had what many thought-about reputable Gray Cup aspirations,” stated O’Leary. “That they missed out on even competing to play in a Gray Cup they have been internet hosting, and that the Stamps celebrated a Gray Cup win of their locker room, is a disappointing and unusual end to a proud group’s season.”

Final Yr’s Winner: Stamps get upset in second straight Gray Cup



Photograph: The Canadian Press

When Travis Lulay suffered yet one more heartbreaking damage in 2017, some questioned whether or not he’d even play one other recreation. Lulay rehabbed and returned that low season earlier than ultimately overtaking Jonathon Jennings because the staff’s beginning quarterback, main the Lions’ return to the post-season.

The 35-year-old was named’s Comeback Participant of the Yr, edging Eskimos linebacker JC Sherritt.

“This man is simply so onerous to not cheer for, as a result of all Lulay has finished is be a consummate professional and unimaginable teammate,” stated Steinberg. “When Jonathon Jennings was the man, Lulay was there to assist him succeed as his backup. When it was his probability once more, Lulay stepped up confirmed he might nonetheless play on this league.”

“When Lulay was harm final yr, there was plenty of speak of him retiring and shifting onto Wally Buono’s teaching employees,” added O’Leary. “As an alternative, Lulay went via a really troublesome rehab at 34 and labored his means again into the beginning job with the Lions. He wasn’t good however the Lions wouldn’t have made the playoffs with out him.”

Author Picks: Comeback Participant of the Yr

Voter Choice
Jim Morris Travis Lulay
Marshall Ferguson JC Sherritt
Chris O’Leary Travis Lulay
Don Landry Eric Rogers
Matthew Cauz JC Sherritt
Pat Steinberg Travis Lulay
Jamie Nye JC Sherritt

*Tie damaged by editor picks

Whereas Lulay earned the tie-breaker, Sherritt’s comeback season in 2018 was no much less exceptional. The Eskimos’ linebacker recorded the second 100-tackle season of his profession regardless of coming off a ruptured Achilles that took away virtually all of his 2017 season.

“Sherritt is the slam dunk winner, going from barely one recreation performed in 2017 to 100 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and most importantly 18 video games performed in 2018,” stated Cauz.

“Bouncing again from that damage isn’t straightforward,” added Ferguson. “Doing it whereas recovering each little bit of explosive potential that made Sherritt a CFL all-star is particular.”

Honourable point out goes to Eric Rogers, who returned after two seasons on the sidelines and overcame a nagging knee damage to play a big position within the Stampeders’ Gray Cup Championship.

“Rogers battled all the best way again from a devastating knee damage, one which noticed him utterly out of soccer for a yr and a half,” stated Landry. “He additionally needed to cope with the sudden lack of his mother, Carrie, who handed away on the age of 53, final winter.”

Final Yr’s Winner: S.J. Inexperienced



Photograph: Adam Gagnon/

After firmly entrenching himself among the many CFL’s elite quarterbacks, Jeremiah Masoli is the Breakout Star of the Yr for 2018.

It took all of six years for Masoli to get the prospect, however the Ticats pivot lastly turned a daily beginning quarterback this season and made probably the most of his alternative, main the league’s most prolific offence whereas throwing for five,209 yards and 28 touchdowns.

“We’ve been ready for somebody to hitch Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly among the many elite CFL quarterbacks and 2018 delivered within the type of Masoli,” stated Steinberg. “Hamilton’s quarterback offered a blueprint for any variety of younger quarterbacks. Masoli got here up slowly in Hamilton, however when it was lastly his time to shine, he made positive to crank the brightness.”

In Masoli’s first full season behind centre, the Ticats’ offence led the CFL with 405.6 yards per recreation. However nearly as good as he was together with his arm, the 30-year-old was simply as harmful operating the ball. His 9.1 yards per passing try and seven.5 yards per rush each led all eligible quarterbacks.

“From simply one other backup to difficult for franchise and league data in numerous passing stats,” stated Ferguson. “This one was straightforward.”

Sophomore receiver D’haquille Williams was the runner-up, whereas defenders Chris Ackie and Davon Coleman additionally acquired votes. That is the primary yr the award has been handed out.

Author Picks: Breakout Star of the Yr

Voter Choice
Jim Morris Davon Coleman
Marshall Ferguson Jeremiah Masoli
Chris O’Leary D’haquille Williams
Don Landry Chris Ackie
Matthew Cauz Jeremiah Masoli
Pat Steinberg Jeremiah Masoli
Jamie Nye D’haquille Williams

Nearly as good as Masoli was, watching the physically-dominant Williams lead the league in receiving yards in simply his second season was one thing to behold.

“He undoubtedly had flashes final yr, however no one might have anticipated him to grow to be such a dominant drive in 2018. Besides perhaps Mike Reilly and Duke Williams,” stated Nye.

“In his second season within the league, Williams greater than doubled his manufacturing and established himself as an elite expertise,” added O’Leary. “He might have completed extra, too, had he not been battling damage late within the season.”

Coleman, traded from Hamilton to BC, performed a key position in a revitalized Lions defence, whereas former fourth general draft decide Chris Ackie was among the many CFL’s prime tacklers earlier than being traded to Ottawa.

“After two odd seasons as a depth man within the Montreal secondary, adopted by an injury-shortened 2017, a everlasting transfer to weak-side linebacker had Chris Ackie hovering in 2018,” stated Landry.

Final Yr’s Winner: N/A



Photograph: Adam Gagnon/

Some stated Trevor Harris wasn’t a ‘massive recreation quarterback’, till he he was.

After having to attend to win his first profession playoff recreation, Harris answered his critics with the sport of his life, breaking a playoff report with six landing passes. Harris’ near-perfect efficiency towards the Ticats led Ottawa to a 46-27 win within the Japanese Remaining, incomes the nod from the writers because the One-Recreation Efficiency of the Yr.

“Trevor Harris had already answered critics with two excellent performances late within the common season, serving to the Ottawa REDBLACKS safe first place,” stated Landry. “Then, he smashed any remaining doubt with six landing passes within the Japanese Last.”

It was a efficiency for the ages, and never simply due to the touchdowns. Harris completed the sport with 367 yards on 29-of-32 passing towards one of many league’s top-ranked secondaries all through the common season.

“One of many huge knocks on Harris going into 2018 was his incapability to carry out within the playoffs the identical approach he has in the course of the common season,” stated Steinberg. “Properly, regardless of dropping within the Gray Cup to Calgary, Harris blew the doorways off that popularity.”

Added Nye: “Harris couldn’t miss, and to do as a lot injury as he did in a playoff recreation makes it that rather more spectacular.”

Harris’ efficiency took 4 of the seven votes. Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson was the runner-up for his 24-point comeback towards the REDBLACKS. Kamar Jorden’s 249-yard recreation additionally acquired a vote.

Author Picks: One-Recreation Efficiency of the Yr

Voter Choice
Jim Morris McLeod Bethel-Thompson comeback
Marshall Ferguson Trevor Harris 6 TDs
Chris O’Leary Kamar Jorden 249 yards
Don Landry Trevor Harris 6 TDs
Matthew Cauz McLeod Bethel-Thompson comeback
Pat Steinberg Trevor Harris 6 TDs
Jamie Nye Trevor Harris 6 TDs

For Bethel-Thompson, it was a primary profession begin that’ll by no means be forgotten. The journeyman quarterback appeared down and out after 30 minutes, however threw 4 second-half landing passes — together with the game-winner with a second left on the clock — to steer the Argos to an historic comeback.

“One of many few highlights of a dreary Argonauts seasons was watching a man with solely two profession cross makes an attempt come again and beat the 2018 East Division Champions,” stated Cauz.

“Who had heard of him earlier than?” requested Morris.

Jorden, who was on tempo for a profession season earlier than struggling a devastating knee damage, broke a group report with 249 receiving yards towards the Bombers.

“Lots of good choices right here, however the timing of Jorden’s recreation was every thing,” stated O’Leary. “He broke a report held by Herm ‘Ham Palms’ Harrison on the day that he was certainly one of two Stamps honoured with the Variety Is Power program. Then the subsequent week, Jorden had his season-ending damage towards Edmonton. He left us with a robust reminder of what he’s able to.”

Final Yr’s Winner: Ed Gainey’s five-takeaway recreation



Photograph: Walter Tychnowicz/

Via all of the data, clutch performs and jaw-dropping finishes, no recreation was as thrilling from begin to end because the Labour Day rematch between the Eskimos and Stampeders.

Edmonton’s 48-42 win was the highest-scoring recreation of 2018, featured a season-high 1,052 yards, and concerned unimaginable performances from Romar Morris (4 touchdowns), Duke Williams (172 receiving yards), Mike Reilly (6 complete touchdowns) and Bo Levi Mitchell (491 passing yards).

And virtually a game-winning Hail Mary on the ultimate play.

“The Argos had a mammoth comeback towards Ottawa, and BC cast an unimaginable last-second comeback towards Hamilton. Nice finishes in each,” stated Landry. “However Edmonton’s 48-42 win at Commonwealth had every part, all through.”

“You discover me a greater recreation than watching Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly mix for 888 passing yards and 10 complete touchdowns,” stated Cauz.

“What didn’t Edmonton’s 48-42 win over Calgary of their Labour Day rematch have?” requested Steinberg. “And the Stamps virtually gained the sport on a Hail Mary as time expired. Yep, this was the most effective recreation of 2018.”

Author Picks: Recreation of the Yr

Voter Choice
Jim Morris Lions’ comeback vs. Hamilton
Marshall Ferguson Lions’ comeback vs. Hamilton
Chris O’Leary Argos’ comeback vs. Ottawa
Don Landry Labour Day rematch
Matthew Cauz Labour Day rematch
Pat Steinberg Labour Day rematch
Jamie Nye Lions’ comeback vs. Hamilton

*Tie damaged by editor picks’s Recreation of the Yr needed to be settled by a tie-breaker, and the Lions’ livid last-second comeback towards Hamilton in Week 15 was no much less thrilling. Bryan Burnham caught a Jonathon Jennings landing cross on the sport’s ultimate play, then scored a toe-tapping two-point convert that endured a prolonged evaluate to pressure extra time.

“A whole stadium full of individuals sat in suspense for minutes questioning if the sport was executed or we’d have additional time,” stated Ferguson.

“It was a rollercoaster of emotion with extra plot twists than an Agatha Christie novel,” stated Morris.

“That recreation is what the CFL is all about,” added Nye.

The Argos’ 24-point comeback, led by Bethel-Thompson’s 4 second-half passing touchdowns, was an honourable point out.

“My opinion could be biased as a result of I used to be at this recreation, however the comeback was so unimaginable and such a drastic turnaround from a horrible first half of soccer,” stated O’Leary. “Within the second quarter the Argos had a punt bounce off of Martese Jackson’s shoulder, land in the top zone and Anthony Cioffi recovered it for the landing. This was a comeback that nobody noticed coming, right down to McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s game-winning TD move with 9 seconds left.

“It was the final nice second of the Argos season.”

Final Yr’s Winner: 105th Gray Cup



Photograph: Adam Gagnon/

Following within the footsteps of Andrew Harris and Mike O’Shea, Ottawa REDBLACKS receiver Brad Sinopoli has been voted’s Canadian of the Yr for 2018.

Sinopoli’s story has turn out to be properly informed through the years, going from college quarterback for the Ottawa Gee-Gees to probably the greatest Canadian pass-catchers of the present period. This yr, Sinopoli raised his recreation much more, breaking the legendary Ben Cahoon’s document for catches in a season by a Canadian.

“Once you break an all-time CFL report at a place Canadians get a official probability to play, you get the nod,” stated Ferguson. “Honourable point out to Jon Gott for being all of us on a Friday night time.”

“You’ll be able to’t argue towards Brad Sinopoli,” added Morris.

Sinopoli was additionally named Most Excellent Canadian this yr, getting the nod over Andrew Harris. However he wasn’t an awesome selection for the writers, whose votes have been wide-ranging and for numerous causes.

Author Picks: Canadian of the Yr

Voter Choice
Jim Morris Brad Sinopoli
Marshall Ferguson Brad Sinopoli
Chris O’Leary Jon Gott
Don Landry Rolly Lumbala
Matthew Cauz Andrew Harris
Pat Steinberg Lewis Ward
Jamie Nye Canadian Mafia

Lions fullback Rolly Lumbala acquired votes from Landry each for Individual of the Yr and Canadian of the Yr. The 11-year veteran was this yr’s recipient of the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award for his impression off the sector.

“Lumbala continued his tireless group work within the Vancouver space – working with at-risk youth and immersing himself in fairly nicely each group outreach program the Lions have going – and he did so whereas caring for his father, Eugene, who died of most cancers in September,” stated Landry.

‘The Canadian Mafia’ received some consideration this yr after being made well-known after Dave Dickenson’s feedback have been caught on air through the Western Remaining. Led by Mike O’Shea, Kyle Walters, Andrew Harris and Wade Miller, the Bombers’ Canadian battery has improved the group yearly since returning to the playoffs.

“Protected to say the Bombers are in good palms with these Canucks main the best way,” stated Nye.

Jon Gott was an honourable point out because of his beer-chugging antics that went viral, whereas final yr’s winner Andrew Harris and place kicking phenom Lewis Ward additionally acquired a vote.

“Overlook for a second that Ottawa’s kicker was an undrafted walk-on out of the College, as a result of that’s spectacular sufficient,” stated Steinberg. “The season we noticed from Ward, although, would have been unimaginable if he was a primary general choice. Ward shattered data beforehand held by gamers like Rene Paredes and Adam Vinatieri to finish the best kicking season in skilled soccer historical past. That deserves just a little love.”

Added O’Leary: “I feel Jon Gott did what any Canadian would need to do in the event that they have been capable of have fun a landing. That was certainly one of my all-time favorite CFL moments.”

Final Yr’s Winner: Andrew Harris


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