The Toronto Argonauts won three of their final four games to close out the regular season, featuring many individual milestones and achievements and setting the stage for a promising 2012. Today, the Canadian Football League announced that seven Argos players have been named East Division All-Stars affirming that the building blocks are in place for future success. The list is headed by the most exciting player in the CFL, and 2011 East Division Outstanding Special Teams Player, Chad Owens, as well as the league’s second-leading running back Cory Boyd, and the East Division’s leading tackler in 2011, DB Lin-J Shell.
Toronto Argonauts GM & Head Coach, Jim Barker, commented, “These East Division All-Star awards are a great celebration of some outstanding individual efforts. We have a solid core group of players at the Argos and we will build around them this off-season to put our players in the best position to be successful as a team in 2012. We will make the changes necessary to translate individual success into team success.”
The Division All-Stars were selected by 70 voters, including members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC), CFL head coaches, and CFL fans from across the country. The FRC voting panel consists of representation from each CFL market and a national chapter.
Toronto’s 2011 EAST DIVISION All-Star Selections:
RB Cory Boyd
C Dominic Picard
DT Kevin Huntley
CB Byron Parker
DB Lin-J Shell
KR Chad Owens
P Noel Prefontaine
In 2011, Cory Boyd became the second Argonauts player in team history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. In the second annual TSN Player Poll, he was voted by his peers across the CFL as the Hardest to Bring Down. Despite missing four games to injury, Boyd was second in the CFL, and second in the East Division, in rushing with 187 carries for 1,141 yards and an impressive 6.1 yards/carry. His six rushing touchdowns were good for second-most in the East. He was fourth in the East and sixth in the CFL in yards from scrimmage (1,259). This is the second consecutive season that Boyd has been named an East Division All-Star.
DT Kevin Huntley was once again an intimidating presence on the Argonauts’ defensive line. He has led, or co-led, the team in sacks for three straight seasons and his six sacks in 2011 tied him with Ricky Foley for the team lead. Huntley also led the Argos with five tackles for a loss, had three pass knock downs and forced one fumble. He added 25 tackles to his impressive statistics. Huntley has now been named an East Division All-Star in two consecutive seasons with Toronto.
He’s already been named the East Division Most Outstanding Special Teams Player for the second straight year and now Chad Owens is an East Division All-Star at kick returner in back-to-back seasons. Also for the second straight season, the Flyin’ Hawaiian was named the Biggest Threat to Score from Anywhere as voted by peers in the annual TSN Player Poll. In 2011, Owens led the league, and set a new Argos single-season standard, for kickoff return yards (1,750) and led the CFL in punt return yards (754), both for the second straight season. Owens also led all CFL players with two kick returns for touchdowns. Late this year, he became the first player in professional football history to achieve back-to-back 3,000 yard seasons, joining CFL Hall of Fame RB Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons as the only player to ever do it twice in a career.
CB Byron Parker once again found his way into the CFL record books in 2011. His week 18 interception return for a touchdown against Winnipeg was the ninth of his career, setting the new standard for CFL defensive backs. Parker has set the bar for his position during his seven-year CFL career and 2011 was no different. His five interceptions tied him for the lead in the East and his two touchdown returns co-led the CFL. His 50 tackles on the year were a career-high and his six pass knock downs tied for second-most on the Argos. Parker is now a three-time East Division All-Star.
Noel Prefontaine had another great season as a punter in what has become a storied CFL career. The now nine-time East Division All-Star, a club record, has been honoured this year as a punter. His 43.3 average per punt led the East and ranked third in the CFL. He also had 4,545 yards on 105 punts and this season became the Argos’ all-time leader in punting yards. His 75-yard hoof against Calgary ranked as the second-longest in the division. Prefontaine played 17 games in the 2011 season and twice won CFL Special Teams Player of the Week. Pulling double duty for the Argos, Prefontaine also scored 149 points and turned in an 82.2% field goal percentage on the season.
Toronto’s 2011 Outstanding Lineman, Centre Dominic Picard, was the glue that held the Double Blue’s offensive line together. He played in every game as the club’s starting Centre and in front of three different starting quarterbacks. RB Cory Boyd achieved 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season behind Picard, and it’s the third straight year an Argos running back has broken the thousand-yard barrier – all behind the Angry Frenchman. In fact, Picard is the first Centre in Argos history to clear a path for three-straight thousand-yard rushers (dating back to 2009). Toronto led the East and the CFL in net rushing yards (2,149), average yards per run (6.4) and average rushing yards per game (126.4). This is the first time Picard has been named an East Division All-Star.
DB Lin-J Shell is among the best defensive backs in the CFL. He was the Argos’ 2011 Outstanding Defensive Player and was third in the CFL, and first in the East Division, in defensive tackles (94). Shell played some of the best football of his CFL career down the stretch – he recovered fumbles, picked off passes and made tackles almost at will. A known playmaker, he led the Argos, the East and the CFL in fumble returns (5), was tied for second on the team in interceptions (2) and pass knock downs (6), and had one sack on the season. This is the second straight season Shell has been named an East Division All-Star.
The CFL.ca All-Star Balloting program reopens today for fans to vote their Argos players as 2011 CFL All-Stars. The final round of voting for fans closes on Sunday, November 13. The CFL All-Stars will be announced on Wednesday, November 16 at Noon ET.