THE CANADIAN PRESS
What a year it has been for Travis Lulay.
In his first full season as a CFL starter, he led the B.C. Lions to first place in the West Division while finishing tied for the league lead in TD passes (32) and second overall in passing.
That was good enough to secure the former Montana State star the nod as West Division finalist for the CFL's outstanding player award against Anthony Calvillo of the Montreal Alouettes. But most importantly, the 28-year-old native of Aumsville, Ore., will cap his season Sunday in the Grey Cup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at B.C. Place.
The six-foot-two, 216-pound Lulay endured a shaky start this season as B.C. opened the 2011 campaign with five straight losses. But after being benched in a 30-17 loss to Winnipeg on Aug. 13, Lulay led the Lions to eight straight victories before the club dropped a 42-10 road decision in Hamilton.
Undeterred, Lulay guided B.C. to two season-ending wins, including an emphatic 43-1 home win over Calvillo and the Alouettes that cemented top spot in the West and home-field advantage for the conference final.
Lulay showed no rust from the one-week layoff, passing for 313 yards and two TDs in the Lions' 40-23 win over Edmonton in the division finale. But he put the Eskimos away with a sparkling 61-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
But Lulay won't be the only player worth watching for in the Grey Cup game. Others include:
Paul McCallum: At 41, McCallum is the CFL's oldest player but he still hit on 50 of 53 field goals this year for a CFL-record 94.3 per cent success ratio. He still has plenty of leg, his longest being from 53 yards this year. McCallum also remains a very effective punter.
Geroy Simon: The 36-year-old was the CFL's second-leading receiver this year with 84 catches for 1,350 yards and eight TDs. Simon also had a crucial 53-yard TD catch in West Division final.
Arland Bruce III: The veteran slotback was a key acquisition this year for B.C. giving the Lions a solid 1-2 punch with Simon. After a slow start with Hamilton, Bruce finished the year with 58 catches for 859 yards and eight TDs.
Keron Williams: The Lions' burly defensive lineman causes a lot of havoc with opposing quarterbacks. Williams had 11 sacks for a Lions defence that finished second overall with 54 and always seems to have a nose for the football.
Brent Johnson: A down year by Johnson's standards as he had just six sacks for B.C. But the former CFL top Canadian and top defensive player award-winner remains a quality pass rusher. Prevailing sentiment is the 11-year veteran will call it a career after the Grey Cup. If so, what better way to go out than with a bang at B.C. Place?
Korey Banks: The veteran defensive back had two key interceptions in the West Division final. Banks anchors a Lions secondary that has more than 30 years of CFL experience and always manages to come up with the big play at just the right time.
WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
Buck Pierce: Winnipeg quarterback returns to B.C., where he began his CFL career in '05. Pierce spent five seasons with the Lions, including their '06 Grey Cup-winning team, before being released after the '09 season. Has endured injuries with the Bombers, but there is no questioning Pierce's toughness and leadership.
Chris Garrett: A nice story here. Garrett was released earlier this season by the Bombers, but got a second lease on his CFL life when veteran Fred Reid suffered a season-ending knee injury. After rushing for 576 yards (6.3-yard average) and four TDs during the regular season, Garrett ran for 190 yards and a TD in leading Winnipeg past Hamilton in the East final.
Terrence Edwards: The veteran leader of Winnipeg's receiving corps. Edwards posted a team-high 66 catches for 1,124 yards and eight TDs. In a frigid East Division final win over Hamilton, Edwards led all receivers with five catches for 80 yards.
Doug Brown: The native of New Westminster, B.C., will cap a solid CFL career in the Grey Cup. The Blue Bombers veteran defensive tackle began his 11-yard career in the Grey Cup with Winnipeg in '01, a loss to Calgary. Like Johnson, it would be fitting for Brown to go out in style in his home province.
Jovon Johnson: Anchored a Winnipeg secondary that was the stingiest in the league this year, averaging just 223.1 yards per game. A deserving finalist for the CFL's outstanding defensive player honour after posting a league-best eight interceptions, two of which he returned for TDs. Is also a dangerous kick returner, when given the chance.