The Calgary Stampeders are pleased to announce that eight members of the team — running back Jon Cornish, receiver Nik Lewis, guard Dimitri Tsoumpas, defensive end Charleston Hughes, linebacker Juwan Simpson, cornerback Keon Raymond, kicker Rene Paredes and punter Rob Maver — have been voted as 2012 West Division all-stars.
The number of division all-stars matches the Stampeders’ second-best total since 2000. Only the 2010 edition of the Red and White, with 13 selections, had more players recognized in the annual voting by the Football Reporters of Canada, CFL head coaches and CFL fans.
This marks the fourth time Lewis and Tsoumpas have been named West Division all-stars while Cornish, Raymond, Simpson and Hughes all earn their second career selections. Paredes and Maver are both first-time all-stars.
Here is a closer look at Calgary’s all-stars:
Jon Cornish (running back): In his first full season as a starter, Cornish ran for 1,457 yards as he won the CFL rushing title and broke Normie Kwong’s 56-year-old single-season rushing record for Canadians. On Wednesday, he was named the West Division finalist for both the Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Canadian awards. Cornish shared the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns and was also a threat in the passing game as he had 38 catches for 338 yards and two scores. Cornish was named the CFL’s Canadian player of the month in August, September and October/November. He was also voted Canadian player of the week on seven occasions and offensive player of the week once.
Nik Lewis (receiver): The nine-year veteran arguably had the best season of his distinguished career as he led the CFL with 100 receptions. That total established a new career high and made him just the fourth player in franchise history to record a 100-catch season as he joined a group that includes Allen Pitts, David Sapunjis and Ken-Yon Rambo. Lewis had 1,241 receiving yards this season and matched a career best with 10 touchdowns. Lewis led the CFL with 34 receptions on second-down conversions and ranked fourth with 559 yards after the catch. He caught at least one pass in every game he played and his streak now stands at 157 games overall. During the season, Lewis surpassed 12 players to climb into 13th place on the CFL’s all-time list for receiving yards and he moved into the league’s all-time top 10 in catches.
Dimitri Tsoumpas (guard): The longest-serving member of Calgary’s offensive line, Tsoumpas was an integral part of the front-line unit that paved the way for Jon Cornish’s league rushing title. While injuries took their toll on Calgary’s other offensive linemen, Tsoumpas was the only member of the unit to start every game this season and he has missed just two games due to injury over the course of his five seasons with the club. Tsoumpas and his o-linemates helped the Stamps offence lead the CFL in rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns while ranking second in points, rushing yards, first downs and pass-completion percentage and third in fewest sacks allowed.
Charleston Hughes (defensive end): Hughes recorded a career-high 11 sacks, which left him just one behind the league leader. It’s the first time a Stamps player has reached double digits in sacks since 2003. Hughes shared the CFL lead with five forced fumbles and was second on the Stampeders with seven tackles for loss. The five-year veteran finished with 53 defensive tackles, six special-teams tackles, three pass knockdowns and one interception. Hughes was named the CFL’s defensive player of the week for Week 9.
Juwan Simpson (linebacker): Calgary’s middle linebacker and defensive captain led the team with 82 tackles, a new career high and the seventh-best total in the CFL this season. Simpson had four tackles for loss, two sacks and shared the club lead with three fumble recoveries including one which he returned 54 yards. He also knocked down three passes and forced a fumble. Simpson had tackles in every game this season including eight games with at least five takedowns. He recorded a season high with nine tackles on Sept. 9 in Edmonton.
Keon Raymond (cornerback): The veteran led the Stampeders and was tied for second in the CFL with five interceptions and he led Calgary with seven pass knockdowns. Raymond returned one of his picks 100 yards for a touchdown during the Oct. 20 game against Hamilton. It’s the second year in a row Raymond has been named to the West all-star team and he has been honoured at two different positions as in 2011 he made the squad as a halfback. The versatile defender also started at strong-side linebacker in the final month of the 2012 season when injuries forced the Stampeders to shuffle their lineup. Raymond finished the season with 44 tackles, including two tackles for loss, and two sacks. He was named the CFL’s defensive player of the week for Week 17 thanks to his 100-yard interception-return TD, eight tackles and two sacks.
Rene Paredes (kicker): The second-year kicker from Pierrefonds, Que., set a new franchise record and turned in the second-best single-season success rate in CFL history when he converted 93.0 per cent of his field-goal attempts in 2012. Paredes was good on 40 of his 43 field-goal tries including his final 18 in a row. He was named the CFL’s special teams player of the month after going a perfect 14-for-14 on field goals in five games during October and November including a game-winner on the final play Nov. 2 in Edmonton. Paredes was 49-for-49 on extra-point conversions finished third in the CFL with 170 total points. He was also among the league leaders with a 63.2-yard average on kickoffs.
Rob Maver (punter): Maver receives all-star recognition after playing just one game in 2011 because of injury and making the conversion from placekicker to punter. He punted the ball 112 times for 4,839 yards and an average of 43.2 yards per kick. Maver’s net punting average of 36.2 yards was best in the CFL and he was among the CFL leaders in punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line with 24 (just one fewer than the league-leading total) and punts inside the opponents’ 10 with seven. Only two of Maver’s 112 punts were returned for more than 30 yards, another category in which he led the CFL.