Canadian Football League

Friday, January 21, 2005

Former B.C. Lion Coach Joins Illinois

Lafayette associate head coach Bob Heffner has accepted a position on Ron Zook's coaching staff at the University of Illinois.
Heffner had just completed the fourth season of his third stint at Lafayette and third year as the program's associate head coach. He was part of Patriot League championship teams in 1988, 1994 and 2004 as a member of the Leopards' staff.
At Illinois, Heffner is expected to be the offensive line coach and work under offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. Locksley and Heffner spent time on the same staff at Maryland prior to Heffner's most recent stint at Lafayette.
Heffner's work with the offensive line helped Lafayette develop one of the most proficient offenses in the Patriot League in recent years. In 2004, the Leopards averaged 212.8 rushing yards per game, ranking second in the league and 21st nationally. Under Heffner, the Leopard front five paved the way for Joe McCourt to become Lafayette's second all-time leading rusher with 4,474 yards. Lafayette led the Patriot League in total offense in 2003 with 404.9 yards per game, while the 2002 squad led the league in passing offense and sacks allowed. The 2001 team also ranked first in the Patriot League in sacks allowed.

Heffner mentored five All-Patriot League linemen during his tenure at Lafayette.
Prior to his most recent stop at Lafayette, Heffner spent four years at Maryland, including two as the Terrapins' offensive coordinator. In his first season as the coordinator, Maryland ranked first in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 12th nationally in rushing yards per game (234.1), and tailback LaMont Jordan earned second-team All-America honors after finishing fifth in the country in rushing.
Between his coaching stops at Lafayette, Heffner spent four years in the professional ranks. He served as the director of player personnel and offensive coordinator for the Arena League champion Tampa Bay Storm in 1993 and as offensive line and running backs coach for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League. During his time with British Columbia, the Lions' Doug Flutie was voted the CFL's Most Valuable Player after setting the league record for passing yards in a season, and Jim Mills was named the league's Most Valuable Offensive Lineman in 1990 and 1991.

Canadian Football League Coach Of The Year Award

2004 Coach of the Year Finalists Announced
Toronto, Ontario - The Canadian Football League announced today the three finalists for the 2004 CFL Coach of the Year (Annis Stukus award). The finalists were selected by 33 members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC). The winner will be announced at the Coach of the Year lunch on February 24, 2005 in Winnipeg. Wally Buono and the BC Lions finished 2004 at the top of the West Division and earned a spot in the 92nd Grey Cup Championship. After a successful 11-7 campaign in 2003, Buono led the Lions to an impressive 13-5 record, which included an eight-game winning streak mid-season. The Lions finished the 2004 season in dramatic fashion, with a last second win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who they faced again in the West Division Championship. Under Buono's guidance, BC emerged victorious again in overtime in front of a home crowd of more than 55,000 fans. Despite losing to the Toronto Argonauts in Ottawa at the Grey Cup, BC fielded some of 2004's most dominating players, including Rogers CFL Outstanding Player of the Year quarterback Casey Printers, Rogers CFL and Grey Cup Outstanding Canadian slotback Jason Clermont, Geroy Simon and Antonio Warren. Buono's Lions also led the League in numerous offensive categories including most points scored (544), most TDs scored (63), most first downs (429) and most yards total offence (7,726). Mike 'Pinball' Clemons is the heart of the Toronto Argonauts. After leading Toronto to a 10-7-1 season, Clemons noted that the tougher battle was ahead - first facing Golden Horseshoe rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and then the East Division leading Montreal Alouettes. Clemons' Argos moved past the Ticats to travel to Montreal for the third time in three years for the WestJet East Division Championship. Coach Clemons said the Argos were ready - mentally and physically - to take on the Alouettes for the all-important Grey Cup berth. He was correct. The Argos defence successfully shut down Als QB Anthony Calvillo, bringing the Montreal offence to a halt and allowing Toronto to claim a 26-18 victory. Clemons and the Argos advanced to Ottawa against a heavily favoured BC Lions team, but put the right defensive mix together once again to secure a 27-19 win and wrap their hands around Lord Grey's cup. Clemons hoisted his fourth Grey Cup, his first as a Head Coach, above his head. Greg Marshall was named Head Coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, making him the first Canadian Head Coach in the club's history and also the first coach to jump from the Canadian university football ranks to the CFL. At McMaster University, the Marauders football team had four Yates Cup victories during Marshall's seven-year tenure, success he continued at the professional level. After posting a 1-17 record in 2003, the Ticats finished 2004 with a record of 9-8-1 under Marshall's direction - their first winning season in three years. The Tiger-Cats went on to face the Argonauts in the East Division semi-final, losing 24-6.

CFL commissioner Tom Wright said the league will continue to experiment with instant replay in 2005 but won't use it on a full-time basis.

"We're not forgetting about instant replay," Wright told the Canadian Press Wednesday from the league's winter meetings in Palm Beach, Fla.
"We will continue with our testing this year."
The CFL tested instant replay twice last season and will again this year. The league will conduct a live test during the June pre-season game between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Halifax.
"As a reference point, it took the NFL four or five years of testing before they brought it in, then they took it out before bringing it back," Wright told CP.
"I've said all along I don't consider instant replay to be a cure-all, rather it's just another tool for our officials."

The B.C. Lions signed defensive end Troy Cunningham and wide receiver Atnas Maeko on Thursday.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Renegades have re-signed vet Val St.Germain as well Non-import defensive tackle Matt Kirk (one year plus option) and American defensive tackle Derek Kennard (terms not disclosed) also are back in the fold.

Darrell Jones has always had a knack for making the most of what he calls "the road less traveled."
Like on Oct. 2, when the Cal Poly kick return specialist fielded a South Dakota State punt and ditched his blockers down the right side of the field and cruised by his lonesome down the left side for an
89-yard touchdown run.
So it comes to no surprise that Jones, Cal Poly's all-time kick returns leader, has passed up the gamble that is the NFL Draft and opted to play in the
Canadian Football League next season.
"I kind of felt like by skipping the draft, I wasn't pursuing my dream," said Jones, who signed a one-year deal with the
Montreal Alouettes worth more than $50,000. "But this is the best way for me to get there. The CFL is a side door to the NFL. That's the way I have to look at it. They're not going to roll out the red carpet for me, so I'll have to get in the side door. I guarantee that I will get there one day."
Jones, who heard from scouts that he could be a second-day pick or a free-agent pickup at worse in the NFL, said there were still questions about his height (5-foot-8) and the level of competition he faced at Division I-AA Cal Poly.
"If I was 6-1, I'd be in the league," he said. "I'm not, so I wouldn't be guaranteed anything if I waited for the draft to come around. Even if I made it through the (NFL) preseason, if I didn't make the final cut, I might be out of a spot and would have to wait another year to have this kind of opportunity."
So Jones, who returned eight kicks (five punts and three kickoffs) for touchdowns in four years at Cal Poly and is the
Mustangs' all-time receptions leader (177), is taking the CFL route.
"He could've waited and rolled the dice in the NFL, but he was always going to be fighting the size thing," said Cal Poly head coach Rich Ellerson. "This is a nice fit for him. Plus the NFL has a financial interest in the CFL, so if he continues to be an excellent return man and a receiver, those (NFL) guys are going to take a good look at him."
It's a route former Cal Poly running back Antonio Warren is familiar with.
Warren, who never made it past the preseason with the New York Giants, is a star running back for the B.C. Lions, leading the CFL club with 1,136 yards rushing and five touchdowns last season.
"I talked to Antonio Warren about my decision," Jones said. "He told me the biggest thing to making it (to the NFL) is to stay consistent in the Canadian league. He said a lot of players start off great and die off at the end of the season. You have to stay consistent, and if you do that the NFL scouts will come."
In the meantime, Jones will be working out with current and former Cal Poly football players in preparation for training camp in May.
And he has plenty to prepare for, as he will be trying to land a starting receiver/kick return job for the winningest coach in the league's history, Don Matthews, who has won five Grey Cups and coached in the CFL for five decades.
On top of playing north of the border, Jones will have to adapt to some major rule changes.
The field is bigger. There are 12 players instead of 11 and three downs instead of four.
Then there's the 5-yard halo rule that punt returners love, especially Jones who hopes the rule will help pave his road to the end zone, and eventually to the NFL.
"That's going to be real exciting," Jones said of the rule that keeps defenders at least 5 yards away from a return man until a punt is fielded. "I'm looking forward to scoring some touchdowns off of that.
"I just want to make a big impact from the first game I play. I'm not going in there thinking I'm a rookie who's going to wait his turn. I'm going to take my turn and make the most of it."

The Edmonton Eskimos have hired Ron Lancaster Jr. as offensive co-ordinator.
Lancaster held the same job with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last season. He also spent six seasons as offensive co-ordinator with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who decided not to renew his contract after the team finished the 2003 season at 1-17. He helped the Ticats to a Grey Cup championship in 1999.

Football legend Normie Kwong was named Alberta's new lieutenant-governor Wednesday by Prime Minister Paul Martin.
"Norman Kwong is an inspiration for many Canadians," Martin said in a release.
"His many contributions, as a professional athlete, as a business person and as a prominent figure in society, speak to his commitment to the people of Alberta.
"He will serve his province and his country well."
Born in Calgary in 1929 to Chinese immigrants, Kwong becomes Alberta's first lieutenant-governor of Asian heritage.
In 1948, he also became the first Chinese Canadian to play in the Canadian Football League and was dubbed the China Clipper for his ferocity as a running back.
During his CFL career, he won four Grey Cups, one with the Calgary Stampeders when he was only 18, and three consecutive championships in 1954-56 with the Edmonton Eskimos.
He was named Canadian Athlete of the Year in 1955 and, since then, his skill and sportsmanship have been recognized by his induction into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1969 and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
Kwong was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1998.
After retiring as a football player in 1960, Kwong established a successful career in real estate and became part-owner and director of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames until he sold his interest in 1994.
In 1988, Kwong became president and general manager of his former football squad, the Stampeders. Many credited him with turning around the fortunes of the near-bankrupt franchise.
He has also continued to be active in the community. In 1979-80, he was the national chairman of the Canadian Consultative Council on Multiculturalism and has also served as honorary chairman of the Calgary Easter Seal campaign.
A bursary is named in his honour at the University of Calgary faculty of medicine.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Calgary Stampeders named Steve Buratto their new offensive co-ordinator Tuesday as the CFL club continued to make wholesale changes to its staff.
The Stampeders also named Craig Dickenson, brother of B.C. Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson, as their special teams co-ordinator and Casey Creehan as the defensive line coach.

The Canton (OH) franchise in the Atlantic Indoor Football League have announced Jim Ballard will serve as assistant coach. Ballard is a fromer Coach with the Argos of The Canadian Football