Joffrey Reynolds is a veteran running back with and a three-time CFL all-star. Rob Maver is a rookie kicker who had a successful university career. Though they are hardly similar, the success of both players will be pivotal for the Calgary Stampeders this season.
In the 2009 campaign, in which Calgary hosted the 97th Grey Cup, Calgary finished second in the West with a record 10-7-1. After a narrow 24-21 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos in the West semi-final, the Stampeders fell 27-17 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West final, ending their Grey Cup hopes. If they want to get back to the Grey Cup this season, Maver and Reynolds will have to be on the top of their game.
When Calgary’s former star kicker Sandro DeAngelis signed with the Hamilton Tiger Cats via free agency, it was one of the most shocking moves of this off-season. DeAngelis has made 83.8% of his field goals during his five year career in the CFL with Calgary. It was no secret that DeAngelis had NFL aspirations, but to see him leave for another CFL team was shocking.
This brings us to Maver.
Maver, a placekicker/punter for the University of Guelph, was selected by the Stampeders in the first round of the 2010 CFL Draft with their fifth pick. Last season, the 22-year-old led the CIS in punting with a 46.12 yard average and also connected on 78.26 percent of his field goals. Still, unless Warren Kean somehow beats out Maver for the starting job, there will be a lot of pressure on Maver to replace DeAngelis.
Last season DeAngelis had the second most points of all kickers, behind only Damon Duval of the Montreal Alouettes, accounting for nearly 35 percent of Calgary’s scoring. Maver will need to be able to match this success this season. When the Stampeders offence fails to put up touchdowns, they will look to Maver to put points on the board.
During his time in Calgary, DeAngelis also won many games for the Stampeders thanks to his game winning kicks. When the game is on the line, will the young Maver be able to buckle down and make a big kick?
A kicker may not be the most important part of a team, but consider this. A couple of missed kicks in a game could mean a loss, a missed kick in the playoffs could mean the end of a season. Clearly, a lot rides on Maver this season.
As for Reynolds, he will need to step up and lead Calgary’s offence this season.
At 34 years old, quarterback Henry Burris isn’t getting any younger and there are serious questions about the passing game. Calgary traded away their leading receiver last season in Jermaine Copeland (1,235 yards, 12 touchdowns), meaning they will have a less talented receiving core. Reynolds could help open up the passing game for Calgary, while taking some pressure off of the team’s new look offensive line.
Fortunately for Calgary, Reynolds is the right man for the job. Even though he is over 30, Reynolds has seen his productivity rise the last three seasons, finishing 1,504 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. When Reynolds rushed for 100 yards in a game last season, the Stampeders only lost three times.
Burris is great at running the play action pass. When Reynolds is running the ball effectively it opens this play up and tires out opposing defences.
Heading into a new season, Calgary will be looking to prove they are still one of the top dogs in the West. Saskatchewan finished first in the West last season. The Stampeders defence won’t be amazing, but should be consistent enough to keep Calgary in ball games. On offence, the Stampeders offence won’t do much if Reynolds struggles. If Maver fails in the kicking game, Calgary could find themselves on the short end of many close game.
That’s a lot of pressure on two players.