Lions' Printers named CFL MVP

British Columbia Lions quarterback Casey Printers was named most valuable player at Thursday's CFL Player Awards banquet in Gatineau, Que.

Printers was a revelation in what amounted to his first full CFL season, completing a whopping 65.8 per cent (325-494) of his passes for 5,088 yards and a league-high 35 touchdowns.

Thanks largely to his leadership, the Lions (13-5) claimed top spot in the CFL West Division and a berth in Sunday's Grey Cup (CBC, 4 p.m. ET).

"Wow, what a tremendous, tremendous award," smiled Printers, the lone unanimous selection among the finalists as voted by the Football Reporters of Canada.

The East finalist for the Most Outstanding Player Award was Montreal Alouettes pivot Anthony Calvillo, who won it last season over Dave Dickenson.

Ironically, Printers merited this year's West nomination for leading B.C. to a 9-2 record while Dickenson recovered from knee surgery.

"I'm surprised because I was up against the best quarterback in the league, which is Anthony Calvillo in my opinion," claimed Printers, 23.

"He ran his own show and threw for more than 6,000 yards. He's a great quarterback."

Calvillo was chosen to represent the East for a third year in a row after leading the CFL in pass attempts (690), completions (431) and passing yards (6,041).

He also tied for second in touchdown tosses (31) as Montreal finished a league-best 14-4.

In a battle of Grey Cup combatants, Jason Clermont of the Lions edged out Toronto Argonauts linebacker Kevin Eiben as the top Canadian.

Clermont, an all-star slotback, finished third among CFL receivers with 83 catches for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns.

"This is great, it's something I appreciate," said the Regina native.

"It's a big deal. But there's a bigger deal coming up Sunday."

Alouettes rush end Anwar Stewart took the Outstanding Defensive Player Award over Calgary Stampeders linebacker John Grace.

Stewart ranked fifth overall with a team-best nine sacks for Montreal, which led the league in 14 of 25 defensive categories.

He also intercepted four passes, returning two for touchdowns.

"I want to be the best, I want to win more awards and help my team win the Grey Cup," Stewart said. "That's my dream."

Gene Makowsky of the Saskatchewan Roughriders was named the league's outstanding lineman over fellow all-star Uzooma Okeke of the Alouettes.

Makowsky, a 10-year CFL veteran, helped the Roughriders average a league-high 139.1 rushing yards plus allow the third-fewest sacks (28).

It was the Saskatoon native's first-ever nomination.

Makowsky's teammate, Andrew Greene, was last year's recipient.

"I'm still on cloud nine because Uz has been a great football player for so many years," Makowsky noted. "It's a huge honour.

"But what I really want is a Grey Cup. With the way we lost and the team we had, we definitely could've been here."

Rookie of the year honours went to Nik Lewis, who led the Stampeders with 72 receptions for 1,045 yards and eight touchdowns.

He never caught less than two passes in a game and returned 31 punts for 385 yards.

Alouettes cornerback Almondo Curry was the other finalist.

"I just hope this was my worst season," Lewis said. "I'm looking forward to playing with Khari (quarterback Khari Jones) next season and if my numbers don't go up, someone else's will."

Keith Stokes received the John Agro Award as the top special-teams player in his first season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Stokes led the CFL in both kickoff and punt returns, totalling 1,112 yards and a touchdown off kickoffs and another 949 yards and franchise-record four touchdowns off punts.

Jason Armstead of the Ottawa Renegades was the other nominee.

"Me and my teammates decided at the start of the year (that) we were going to make big things happen," Stokes recalled. "What bigger recognition can we get as a special-teams unit than this award?"

The Tom Pate Memorial Award for humanitarianism went to Barron Miles, a member of the Alouettes since 1998 and involved in an assortment of charitable and community endeavours.

with files from CP Online