It was an emotional Condredge Holloway who accepted the Schenley Award last week as the most outstanding player for 1982 in the Canadian Football League. Holloway’s selection demonstrated just how quickly things can change in one CFL season. Not only was Holloway’s emergence dramatic, but so was the reversal of form by the team that he quarterbacked—the Toronto Argonauts.
After six years of sharing the quarterbacking duties of the Ottawa Rough Riders, the 28-year-old from Huntsville, Ala., was traded to the Argos before the start of last season. He took over the helm of a terrible team that struggled to two wins and 14 losses in 1981, an accurate reflection of its abilities. As recently as the beginning of this season, Holloway’s status, even with the Argos, was anything but secure. The club’s lack of confidence was underlined by the acquisition of two quarterbacks in the off-season. But both were soon injured; Holloway, for once, was not, and the Toronto fairy tale began. At week’s end Holloway was holding the Schenley and the Argos were the eastern champions, about to play Edmonton in the Grey Cup.
The Argos had not been in the Cup since 1971, had not won it since 1952, and no Argo had won the Schenley top award since 1968. The tradition was shucked this year thanks to Holloway’s mastery of a new run-and-shoot offence and a rejuvenated defence led by Schenley defensive player of the year runnerup Zac Henderson. (He lost out to Edmonton Eskimo linebacker James Parker.) But it was the nimble Holloway who turned the Argos around, completing 299 of 507 passes for 4,661 yards and 31 touchdowns.
The much maligned Eastern Conference, perennially the weak sister in the CFL, took four of the five awards. One surpised winner was Chris Isaac, selected as the league’s top rookie. Like most observers, he thought the rookie award would go to B.C. Lion wide receiver Merv Fernandez. Ironically, Isaac has Holloway’s old job in Ottawa. His teammate, guard Rudy Phillips, was named the outstanding offensive lineman. The Canadian-born player of the year was slotback Rocky DiPietro of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
As Holloway and the Argos demonstrated the mercurial nature of the CFL, the league last week outlined a tentative plan for a dispersal draft to stock the proposed Atlantic franchise scheduled to join the league in 1984. The nine existing teams would protect only 10 of 15 Americans and 10 of 19 Canadians, including one quarterback. The new Atlantic Schooners could take as many as four starting players (two Americans and two Canadians) from each team, which would give the newcomers a squad perhaps as good as last year’s Argos or this year’s Montreal Concordes. If the Schooners get a stadium and the team does join the CFL, fans in the Halifax-Dartmouth area may not have the chance to suffer the Toronto angst of waiting decades for a shot at the Cup or 14 years for a Schenley outstanding player winner.
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