Canadian Football League

Friday, February 24, 2006

Palmer looks forward to coaching career in Canadian Football League

Palmer leaving Lobos with respectChavez coach steps down after building tradition
By JEFF JENKINSChronicle Correspondent

PALMER REPORT • New opportunity: Chavez' Danny Palmer was recently hired as a regional scout, special teams coordinator and running backs coach for the Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League.
• Playoff foundation: Palmer enjoyed two stints at Chavez. During his first season (2001), he led the Lobos to a 5-6 record and the school's only Class 5A playoff appearance.
• Back together: Palmer will be reunited with Renegades head coach John Jenkins, who was also Palmer's boss at the University of Houston in 1992.
Chavez's Danny Palmer has enjoyed coaching success in both high school and college football. Now he's giving the professional ranks a try.
Palmer, the Lobos' head football coach and athletic coordinator four of the past five years, recently announced that he is leaving Chavez to accept a position as a scout and special teams and running backs coach with the Canadian Football League's Ottawa Renegades.
"As a coach, you don't get many opportunities like this in your career," Palmer said. "I thought it was the right thing to do for me and my family. I really couldn't say no."
But loyalty also played a factor in Palmer's decision. Palmer, 56, is a close friend of new Renegades coach John Jenkins, who hired Palmer as his linebackers coach back in 1992 when Jenkins was head coach at the University of Houston.
"John Jenkins and I go way back," Palmer said. "We actually coached against each other when I was at Texarkana and he was an assistant coach at Nacogdoches. We've stayed in touch, and John actually gave me my first Division I (college) coaching job at UH."
When Jenkins asked Palmer, who lists stops at Texas Southern, the University of Texas-Arlington, Eastern Oklahoma State University, Austin Peay University and Northwest Mississippi Junior College on his coaching resume, to join his staff in Ottawa, he couldn't refuse. In his new role, he will serve as a regional scout, special teams coordinator and running backs coach.
"It's all about loyalty," Palmer said. "John Jenkins has been very good to me and my family. I enjoyed my one season with him at UH. He's one of the brightest offensive coaches in the game. I learned a great deal from him."
Palmer, a Tyler native and former quarterback at the University of Southern Mississippi, said he relished the challenge of building a football franchise that has struggled in the CFL.
"Ottawa was a good organization back in the 1960s and 1970s and won several Grey Cup championships (as the Rough Riders), but the Renegades haven't had a winning season in a few years," Palmer said. "Ottawa is a beautiful city. It's the capital of Canada. The fans are great. If we give them a winner, they will support us."
Palmer said Jenkins has proven he can win in the CFL. After being fired from the University of Houston, he has been an offensive coordinator for five different CFL teams. Jenkins coached the Toronto Argonauts, led by quarterback Doug Flutie, to the Grey Cup title in 1997.
"I'm really looking forward to coaching in the CFL," Palmer said. "It's a 12-man game and they play on a bigger field. It's a wide-open type of game. It should be fun."
Palmer brings plenty of experience with him. After many years as a successful high school and college coach, Palmer coached from 1992 to 1999 at the University of Houston, where his duties ranged from linebackers and running backs coach to recruiting coordinator. In fact, several of Palmer's former UH recruits are now starring in the CFL, including Calgary's Geoffery Reynolds.

Palmer was hired as head football coach at Chavez prior to the 2001 season. In only the school's second year, Palmer led the Lobos to a 5-6 record and their first — and only — trip to the Class 5A playoffs.
"That has to be one of my most special coaching memories," Palmer said. "Nobody gave Chavez much of a chance, and we made the playoffs in our second year. That was pretty exciting."
Palmer left Chavez after only one season when Texas Southern University coach Bill Thomas, then the Tigers coach, hired Palmer as defensive coordinator and special teams coach during the 2002 season.
But Palmer returned to Chavez for the last three seasons. Although the Lobos didn't advance to the playoffs, they improved every year, posting respective seasons of 2-8, 3-7 and 4-6.
"It's obvious that we got better every year," Palmer said. "We worked with the junior high programs in our area and started getting the better athletes to come to Chavez. Whoever Chavez gets as their next coach will have a great team the next few years."
Palmer, who also coached the Chavez girls track and field squad to a district championship during his tenure, said he will miss his athletes at Chavez, especially the football players.
"I got very attached to kids like Erik Martin, Robert Bargas, Harold Turnage, Frederick Blue, Justin Bell, Travis Fortson and Brian Eurysthee, who has become one of the best running backs in the Houston area," Palmer said. "We have some great, young men at Chavez. It will be difficult saying good-bye."
Palmer, whose last day at Chavez is Feb. 28, said he isn't leaving the area. He and his wife, Sharon, have two daughters, Stacie and Bethany, and a 6-year-old grandson, Miles, in Houston.
"We plan to keep our home in Houston," Palmer said. "I can do some of my scouting here in Houston, and I'll go to Ottawa for training camp in June, and the regular season is in June, July and August, followed by the Grey Cup in early September. But I'll be back in the fall."
Palmer has been a football coach for 35 years, and he's never been more excited.
"I don't think I've ever been more enthused about a job in my coaching career," Palmer said. "I'm ready for a new challenge."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Tom Higgins named Canadian Football League coach of the year

Tom Higgins has a tough act to follow in 2006: his own.
Higgins was honoured as the CFL's 2005 coach of the year Thursday after leading a Calgary club to an 11-7-0 record, just one season after it posted a dismal 4-14-0 mark and finished last in the West Division. The Stampeders not only registered their first winning season since 2000, but also reached the CFL playoffs for the first time since 2001.
"I truly believe now because we've set the bar so high it will be very, very difficult for me to get back up here again with the Calgary Stampeders organization," Higgins told reporters after picking up the prize in Toronto.
"To go from four (wins) to 11 (wins) is miraculous but to go from 11 to 11 or 11 to 12, you just go, 'It's expected.'
"We're going to have to win a couple of championships maybe for me to have the opportunity to be here again at any point and time."
Higgins, 51, became the 10th CFL head coach to win the award twice, claiming the 2003 honour after leading Edmonton to a Grey Cup title.
Higgins was the runaway winner in voting conducted by the Football Reporters of Canada. The native of Colonia, N.J., received 33 of a potential 53 first-place votes.
Danny Maciocia, Higgins' replacement in Edmonton, finished second with 14 votes while Mike (Pinball) Clemons of the Toronto Argonauts was third with six votes.
For Clemons, it was his fourth straight nomination. He has yet to win the award.
Higgins became the first Calgary coach to receive the honour since Wally Buono did so in 1993.
The 2005 season was a watershed campaign for Higgins, who prior to joining the Stampeders spent four years as Edmonton's head coach and led the team to two Grey Cup appearances, including the 2003 win.
But after posting a 9-9-0 record in 2004, Higgins suddenly left Edmonton. His departure was called a resignation, but sentiment throughout the CFL suggested Higgins was fired after 11 years with the franchise.
Higgins, nicknamed Ned Flanders by the Edmonton media after the clean-living character on the popular Simpsons cartoon series, has steadfastly refused to kick sand in the Eskimos' face, even after receiving his award Thursday.
"I don't believe you can get ahead if you're trying to get even," he said. "I had 11 great years in Edmonton and I left with nothing but fond memories.
"It is so far removed now. I'm a Calgary Stampeder through and through. We will continue to compete against our big rival up north, that being the Edmonton Eskimos."
Shortly after being terminated in Edmonton, Higgins joined a Stampeders franchise that had been purchased by a new local ownership group following the 2004 season.
"From the start, 2005 started out a exactly the way you'd write it in a script," he said. "Brand new ownership, they bring in a head coach and say, 'What do you need? What do you want?'
"It's truly a reflection of the people you surround yourself with. I empower them, I ask them to work as hard as they can and give them as much credit as I can and if anything goes wrong in the organization, it's my fault."
Higgins has made Alberta his home, retiring as a player in 1981 to become a high school coach in Calgary. He went on to coach at the University of Calgary and spent nine years with the Stampeders before joining the Eskimos as their assistant general manager in '93, effectively giving up on his dream of being a CFL head coach.
But that dream became a reality in 2001 when Higgins stepped down as general manager to assume head coaching duties after Edmonton's messy firing of Don Matthews prior to the start of training camp. The club cited health reasons at the time, although Matthews did resurface a year later with the Montreal Alouettes, a position he still holds.
Higgins won't be leaving Calgary anytime soon. In the off-season, he signed a multi-year contract extension to remain the Stampeders head coach and senior vice-president of football operations.
"If you look back at the history I was rejected six times as a head coach," Higgins said. "I knew being with Wally in Calgary that I'd never be the head coach in Calgary, so I gave up my dream of actually being a head coach and went to Edmonton to become the assistant general manager.
"I can see now I'd like to have the opportunity to coach until they want me to move up (into front office) because I'd also like to lead a football organization one day," he added.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Canadian Football League QB tries his luck in Rome

Renegades Spotlight: Marcus Brady
Rome, Ga. - The Rome Renegades would like to introduce Marcus Brady. Brady, 6-0, 210 pounds, was a 4 year starter at Cal State Northridge and graduated with a degree in Business Finance. He spent the last 4 years at the professional level playing the in Canadian Football League (CFL). Brady spent 2 seasons with the Toronto Argos and 2 seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Last season while playing for the Tiger-Cats, Brady played in 18 games and had 843 yards passing and five touchdowns, as well as 16 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown. While playing for Cal State Northridge, Brady had 1,677 pass attempts; 1,036 pass completions (which are a NCAA Division I-AA record) for a total of 12,445 yards and 109 touchdowns, all of which are Cal State-Northridge records. He also had 436 carries totaling 648 and 15 touchdowns.
Brady, who is originally from San Diego, CA, now lives in Atlanta with wife Sherrie Brady. When asked about his feelings for being a Renegade, Brady said "I am enjoying it so far and I am looking forward to the first game." For the upcoming season, his personal goals include being the best quarterback in the AIFL. And his team goals include winning as many games as possible and going to the championship.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sanchez traded back to team that he started his Canadian Football League carer with

Davis Sanchez is back with the Montreal Alouettes.
The Alouettes re-acquired the veteran cornerback Saturday from the Edmonton Eskimos for defensive tackle Robert Brown and defensive back Reggie Durden. This will mark Sanchez's third stint with Montreal.
Sanchez, 31, began his CFL career with Montreal in '99 after being selected in the first round of the Canadian college draft out of the University of Oregon. The Vancouver native spent the next two seasons with the Alouettes - being named a league all-star in 2000 after registering nine interceptions - before heading to the NFL's San Diego Chargers.
Sanchez appeared in 22 games with San Diego before returning to the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders in 2003. He was traded back to the Alouettes for Andrew Noel, the rights to Joey Bonaventura and a draft pick and had a solid 2004 season in Montreal, recording three interceptions and 41 tackles en route to his second East Division all-star selection.
In 2005, Sanchez signed as a free agent with Edmonton, appearing in 12 games and registering 28 tackles, two sacks, one interception and two knockdowns. He did not dress for the club's Grey Cup march, which culminated with the Eskimos downing Montreal 38-35 in overtime.

The trade will spell a return to Edmonton for Brown, who spent four seasons with the club (1998-2001). Brown, who makes his off-season home in the Alberta city, had seven tackles, two sacks and one knockdown in 15 regular-season games with Montreal last year.
Durden, entering his sixth CFL season, had 54 tackles and two interceptions last year with Montreal.
''Reggie Durden is extremely versatile and one of the CFL's top cover men,'' Edmonton coach Danny Maciocia said in a statement. ''Robert Brown is a dominant inside force who can beat you with speed or power.''