Cornish a double Stampeders award nominee despite missing half the season

 

It would be an amazing feat if running back actually manages to win CFL Most Outstanding player and Top Canadian awards

 
 
 
 
Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish passed the 1,000-yard mark on the season in last Saturday’s game vs. Winnipeg before leaving with a concussion. The yardage feat is remarkable, given he’s played only half the season.
 

Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish passed the 1,000-yard mark on the season in last Saturday’s game vs. Winnipeg before leaving with a concussion. The yardage feat is remarkable, given he’s played only half the season.

Photograph by: Jeff McIntosh, THE CANADIAN PRESS

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On his 30th birthday, Jon Cornish was forced to skip work due to a concussion, so there wasn’t a chance to celebrate another double bauble.

Chew on this though: The Calgary Stampeders star running back is the team’s nominee for both most outstanding player and most outstanding Canadian, despite playing only half the CFL season.

If the Stampeders had their way, the celebration will take place Grey Cup week, when the team will be chasing down another title with their workhorse healthy enough to enjoy awards night in Vancouver as a double West Division nominee.

Considering what happened to Cornish in Week 1 of the season and this past weekend, it’s remarkable that the eight-year running back could be collecting more hardware when it’s doled out on Nov. 26.

The first concussion, suffered on a hit from Montreal’s Kyries Hebert in the opener, kept him out seven weeks and a duration of six games. The latest one, after getting slammed to the turf against the Bombers, will prevent him from playing the season finale against the B.C. Lions on Friday.

In between, when Cornish suited up, he was beyond dominant, piling up 1,082 yards in nine games (about eight really if you count two times he left early in games). Cornish set the best mark for yards rushing per game (122) and will have the highest per carry average of any rushing title winner of all-time (7.8), provided Edmonton’s John White doesn’t go over 230 this weekend against Saskatchewan.

Projected over a full season, Cornish would have 2,164 rushing yards, but it’s tough to play a game of what-ifs, especially in football.

“I used to do that to myself,” said Stampeders offensive co-ordinator and former quarterback Dave Dickenson. “It is too bad, but it’s the reality if what we do. It’s a violent game. We are just hoping he can get past this issue of concussions and he can be the guy again.”

Cornish is facing Edmonton receiver Adarius Bowman, Winnipeg quarterback Drew Willy, Saskatchewan defensive end John Chick and B.C. linebacker Solomon Elimimian for the West Division MOP.

Considering a defensive player has never won the league award, and receivers often get overlooked, this is a strange year for voters. The one thing that is consistent is the Football Reporters of Canada generally don’t buy in when players miss games due to injury.

If Cornish did win MOP, he would have missed more games this year than all other previous winners combined.

Maybe minds are changing, though. Last year, Ricky Ray was the East Division nominee despite only playing in 11 games, although he lost to Cornish for the league award. The honour is called the most outstanding player, and not MVP, so Cornish has a case. Dickenson certainly believes he should win.

“Jon has been the best player in the league, but it’s unfortunate he only played half the games,” Dickenson said. “It’s been an interesting year. There isn’t a clear-cut winner. Jon has had a great year but by only playing half the year, its certainly up for debate. I think he should be in the mix. We support him and hope he wins it.”

Cornish is also up for most outstanding Canadian, an award he’s taken home the past two seasons. This year, there might be resentment because of his lack of games played.

Over the past 38 years, only six of the winners have missed a game during the year they won, including Cornish last year.

Only one player — Leroy Blugh for the Edmonton Eskimos in 1996 — missed four games, but he still had 11 sacks. Three times a player has missed two games and still won, but never half the season.

Cornish faces stiff competition from Saskatchewan defensive end Ricky Foley, who has 12 sacks this season. If he does pull off the three-peat for top Canadian, he will have missed more games than the previous 22 winners combined, and only three fewer than all 38 combined.

Recent history makes a strong case for Cornish, though. Jerome Messam won the award in 2011 for breaking the 1,000-yard mark, finishing with 1,057 in 18 games and gaining a lot of fanfare for it, but Cornish has topped that total in exactly half as many.

Had Cornish’s first 1,000-yard season came right after Messam’s, it would be looked as much more impressive, but the Stamps star had seasons of 1,457 and 1,813 since then, make this year seem like old hat. Still, it was just nine games.

“The nine games almost reinforces how important Jon is to our team,” said Stamps centre Brett Jones. “When he’s in there, he is the best player in the CFL. His limited work should give him consideration.”

 
 
 
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Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish passed the 1,000-yard mark on the season in last Saturday’s game vs. Winnipeg before leaving with a concussion. The yardage feat is remarkable, given he’s played only half the season.
 

Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish passed the 1,000-yard mark on the season in last Saturday’s game vs. Winnipeg before leaving with a concussion. The yardage feat is remarkable, given he’s played only half the season.

Photograph by: Jeff McIntosh, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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