Mac's Main Man
The playoff picture is starting to clear up as we enter the final two weeks of the regular season. A lot was on the line for every team in the CFL in Week 17, including the defending Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions.
B.C. had already clinched a playoff birth, but had Calgary and Saskatchewan nipping at their heels for the race to clinch the West Division. Securing that first-round bye to rest your weary warriors is always essential despite the usual banter about losing momentum with the time off.
That is why the Lions had so much to play for Friday night in what turned out to be a dominating 39-19 victory
over the Edmonton Eskimos. This win officially made B.C. the division title winners and put a big question mark on what will become of the rest of Edmonton's 2012 campaign.
When you defeat a rival so handily in an important match-up, typically a few names come to mind for who was the most valuable player. Backup quarterback Mike Reilly, who found eight different receivers, threw a pair of touchdowns, and rushed for 43 yards, certainly gets consideration.
However, the week 17 "Mac's Main Man" is none other than Lions kicker/punter Paul McCallum.
Not the sexiest pick, and I can sense my broadcast partner Carlan rolling his eyes, but the selection is well warranted. Why wouldn't it be when a single player is responsible for over half of the team's points?
In his 20th season, ninth with the Lions, McCallum swung his mighty leg for 21 points. He was a perfect 6-for-6 on field goals, booted three extra points, and punted five times for a total of 169 yards. The longest three-pointer was a 48-yard beauty that gave B.C. a 16-10 lead heading into the half.
The Vancouver native is Old Faithful for a Lions club looking to repeat as league champs. As with most kickers, he often does not get the deserved credit for how important he is to this team.
What piece of mind it is for the coaches and players to not have to worry about whether a kick will be made or not. A career conversion rate of 80 per cent takes pressure off of everyone and gives Wally Buono endless confidence that when No. 4 trots out on the turf, three points are going up on the scoreboard.
Mac has decided to waste his MVP this week on a kicker. No disrespect to Paul McCallum, he's been one of the great kickers we have seen in this league for a very long time, but nothing excites me about putting a ball down and kicking it through the uprights.
However, Mac did have the right team in the B.C. Lions to spotlight, just not the right player. This week's darling is linebacker Adam Bighill, and it's been a long time coming.
Bighill went head-to-head with another potential defensive player of the year candidate in J.C. Sherritt of the Eskimos, who with a league-high 115 tackles has been hitting everything that moves. As a matter of fact, Mac and I have refrained from wearing any of our CFL jerseys this season in fear that Sherritt would eventually find and tackle us.
Sherritt once again led the Eskimos in tackles on Friday night with a game-high seven hits and added an interception. It still wasn't enough to get his team the win, and in my opinion wasn't enough to outshine Bighill.
Bighill ended Friday night's contest with four tackles and two sacks. His defining moment came early in the game after Sherritt had picked off Mike Reilly and put Edmonton in prime position to put points up on the board early. Bighill helped bail out his quarterback's misplay by sacking Kerry Joseph on the very next possession, forcing Edmonton to settle for a field goal.
The Lions went on to win the game by a score of 39-19, and clinched the top seed in the West division. Bighill may have also made the best argument as to why he should be the defensive player of the year in the CFL. He quarterbacks the league's best defensive unit, and in only his second year on the Leos he stands out even though he is surrounded by a ton of talented players.
At this point in the season it should be very tough for any unbiased CFL fan to see any team other than the B.C. Lions hoisting the Grey Cup in less than a month.- Carlan Gay
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