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September 10, 2019

BEGELTON EYEING TRIPLE CROWN

A July, August and September to remember for Reggie Begelton. The best, though, is yet to come.

So move over Mr. Jackson, another Reggie is bucking to share the moniker Mr. October.

Thing is, the current guy can also Go Yard clutch, like the five-time World Series-winning Hall of Fame NY Yankee slugger back in the ‘70s.

“It’s feels good to have your work noticed,’’ concedes Begelton. “I’m not going to deny that.

“We all have some sort of ego. So compliments are always nice to hear.

“But you never know from game to game how many times you’re going to be targeted or how many catches you’ll be able to make.”

“And the same time, we, as a group, have a goal for the end of the year. And I’m pretty sure you know what that goal is. I missed the Grey Cup last year” – suffering a broken arm in September – “so I want to get back there and I want to play, especially with the game being here in Calgary.

“That’s two years in a row I’ve been there and had to sit on the bench watching my team try and win a championship.

“You’re part of the team but it feels like a consolation prize.

“So if I’m still on top of those categories you mentioned at the end of the year and then we end up winning the Grey Cup?

“All the sweeter.

“But, believe me, if I’m not and we’re the ones celebrating after that last game, I’ll still be a happy man.”

Begelton is currently Top of the Pops in CFL receiving yards at 930, having skipped merrily past Derel Walker (897) and Brandon Banks (862) via a seven-snare/88-yard/one touchdown turn up yonder at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday.

As well, he’s tied for the lead in receiving TDs alongside comrade-in-arms Eric Rogers at seven, as well as for most receptions, neck-and-neck beside Hamilton’s Brandon Addison, with 66.

So, sticking to the Reggie Jackson/baseball motif, Begelton finds himself in with a fighting chance for a rare Triple Crown.

The last Stampeder to accomplish the feat, Allen Pitts a quarter-century ago, led the loop with 126 catches for 2,036 yards and a jaw-dropping 21 TDs (Begelton sidekick Eric Rogers came close in 2015, leading in yards and tied for first in TD and fourth in catches).

Pitts, of course, remains the indisputable gold standard at the position in this town.

“I’ve heard the name since I’ve been here, of course,’’ says Begelton.

And his whereabouts in 1994 while the ionic No. 18 was tearing up fields across this land, catching pass after pass from Doug Flutie?

“I was a year old. Had a binky” – a soother – “in my mouth.”

Begelton has growed some since then, naturally. And this season, whether playing pitch-and-catch with Nick Arbuckle or recently reunited with Bo Levi Mitchell, he’s been able to adapt, adjust and thrive.

“Reggie’s ability to do everything on the field but do those things a little bit better than other people is just … spectacular,’’ lauds Mitchell. “The speed he has, the separation he has, they set him apart but you don’t see a lot of guys with his speed that also have his strength.

“I think of the catch in Sask this year toward end the end of the game, from Nick. Then the one last year in Hamilton, the 99-yarder, where he goes up over a guy, catches it, then stiff-arms the guy to the ground.

“And his YAC right now, man, is just stupid. Whether’s breaking a tackle, making one guy miss with one move to get upfield, he’s working, understanding what we’re doing and doing it well.”

This breakout season is no break-out-the-smelling-salts surprise to anyone around McMahon Stadium.

“I think the nice thing for Reg, and Eric, and all our guys, is seeing them being rewarded for all the hard work, for working on their craft,’’ says receivers’ coach Pete Costanza.

“We all knew, even last year, the ability that Reggie has. I mean, that’s no secret. You see Bo, and Nick when he was in there, developing chemistry with Reg as we go along.

“And that’s when a guy like him can be really dangerous.

“When they’re on the same page, the receiver’s running the right routes, not tricking the quarterback, good things happen. Reg has made his mistakes here and there but he’s putting in the work to correct them.

“He probably could’ve had another TD there late in the (Edmonton) game which would’ve put him first but’’ – small smile – “Eric just won’t let him take the lead.”

Seven starts remain on the dance card and the Triple Crown is there, hanging in the air for the taking. No different, really, than pulling an Arbuckle or Mitchell pass down from out of the stadium-lit heavens.

“Hey, we still don’t know his ceiling really is,’’ points out Mitchell happily.

“I mean, he’s show us a lot already.

“So I think we’re all – teammates, coaches, Reggie himself – excited to find out just how high that ceiling really goes.”