Wednesday October 01, 2014

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Weyburn football players win awards

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Weyburn football was in the spotlight during the CFL's annual awards ceremony on November 21 in Regina.

 - Calgary Stampeders centre Brett Jones, who hails from Weyburn, was named the CFL's top rookie for the 2013 season. - Photo by David Willberg
Photo by David Willberg

Calgary Stampeders centre Brett Jones, who hails from Weyburn, was named the CFL's top rookie for the 2013 season.

Centre Brett Jones of the Calgary Stampeders won the league's rookie of the year award, which was the first honour handed out that night. And guard Brendon LaBatte of the Saskatchewan Roughriders was named the league's top offensive lineman just moments after Jones accepted the rookie award.

LaBatte said it's "crazy" to have two offensive linemen from the same small city win awards on the same night, especially since there have only been a few players from Weyburn who have played in the CFL.

"I'm not sure what the percentages of that happening would be, but they can't be very good," said LaBatte.

 - Weyburn's Brendon LaBatte was named the CFL's top offensive lineman during the league's awards banquet on November 21 in Regina. - Photo by David Willberg
Photo by David Willberg

Weyburn's Brendon LaBatte was named the CFL's top offensive lineman during the league's awards banquet on November 21 in Regina.

But both players said their awards were due, in part, to the coaching and the tutelage that they received in Weyburn's minor football program, and with the Weyburn Comprehensive School Eagles team.

"For me to be able to play football from peewee all the way to high school, I was definitely able to build those skills," said Jones.

Jones was selected in the second round, 16th overall, by the Stampeders in this year's CFL Draft, and earned the job as the Stampeders' starting centre with his efforts in training camp and the pre-season.

Jones started all 18 games for the Stampeders this year, and was named a West Division all-star.

LaBatte was selected sixth overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2008 CFL Draft. He was an East Division all-star from 2009 to 2011 for Winnipeg, and a CFL all-star in 2011.

He signed with the Riders as a free agent in 2012, and was named a West Division all-star in his first year with the club.

LaBatte beat Toronto Argonauts' centre Jeff Keeping for the offensive lineman award.

Three days after the awards, LaBatte and his Saskatchewan Roughrider teammates defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 in the Grey Cup at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. A raucous crowd of nearly 45,000 spectators - most of them sporting the Riders' green and white colours - cheered wildly throughout the contest.

LaBatte and the Riders offensive line played a key role in the victory. They opened up holes for Kory Sheets and the Riders other running backs in the Grey Cup, and offered plenty of protection for quarterback Darian Durant.

Sheets set a new Grey Cup record with 197 yards rushing. And the Riders finished with 268 yards rushing as a team.

Durant, meanwhile, completed 17 of 24 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns.

"We come to work every day - we have for 23 weeks," LaBatte said of the offensive line. "Our mindset has never changed. We were just trying to get a little bit better, a little bit better each day, and add it all up over 23 weeks. It's such an incredible group."

LaBatte said Grey Cup week couldn't have been any better, and he looks forward to when he can bring the Grey Cup home to Weyburn.


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