Over Halloween weekend, or what some may call “Halloweekend” Canadian football fans were given quite the treat. The Ottawa Redblacks, Calgary Stampeders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Elks took part in the CFL’s Friday night double header, on Saturday another CFL double header kicked off alongside a full Saturday slate of NCAA football and on Sunday the Canadians in the NFL had games, big games.
On Sunday, Brampton, Ontario native Joshua Palmer caught his first career NFL touchdown with the Los Angeles Chargers. A 24 yard connection with Justin Herbert marks Palmer’s 7th catch on his young rookie NFL season, and his teammate Christian Covington from Vancouver, B.C also made quite the impact with the Chargers against the New England Patriots having made 5 tackles of his own, giving him 24 tackles and a sack on the season. Ottawa’s Eli Ankou made his debut with the Tennessee Titans after being signed last week. Ankou, in his 5th NFL season, with his 9th NFL team made 2 tackles with the Titans in their win over the Indianapolis Colts. Canadian tail back Chuba Hubbard scored his second touchdown of the 2021 NFL season and had 91 yards of offence on 25 touches against the Falcons while other rookies Jevon Holland and Benjamin St Juste made impacts in defensive backfields, St Juste making 6 tackles and a tackle for loss with Washington and Holland making 5 tackles for the Dolphins. Steelers wide receiver from Abbotsford, B.C Chase Claypool had 6 offensive touches in a 15-10 win over the Browns for 61 yards, giving him over 400 yards in the first half of the 2021 NFL season.
Canadians are clearly starting to establish themselves into the NFL quite well, growing into primary roles on both sides of the football and at all positions, but this is not the most Canadians you will see making plays in the NFL. A number of players are eligible for next year’s NFL Draft and are making plays south of the border this season and the long list of Canadians in the NCAA continues to grow and improve.
Defensive playmaker Enock Makonzo from Coastal Carolina made 11 tackles and had 3 quarterback hurries in their win over Troy University last Thursday, Illinois’ Sydney Brown also made over 10 tackles and had a pass deflection on the weekend while Jesse Luketa, an Ottawa-raised linebacker and edge rusher from Penn State made 7 tackles and a tackle for loss, Deane Leonard of Ole Miss made 6 tackles, West Virginia’s Alonzo Addae had 6 tackles and a tackle for loss in a win over Iowa State and defensive linemen Isaiah Bagnah of Boise State, Luiji Vilain from Wake Forest, WVU’s Akeem Mesidor and NC State’s Daniel Joseph had big games as well over the weekend. Mesidor made 4 tackles and a tackle for loss, Joseph had 6 tackles and a sack, Isaiah Bagnah, a Lethbridge, Alberta-raised pass rusher had 7 tackles and a sack, giving him 6 sacks on the season and 9 on his early NCAAF career and Luiji Vilain had 4 tackles and a tackle for loss in his NFL Draft year with Wake Forest, remaining undefeated.
As for Canadians on the offensive side of the ball, with John Metchie and Alabama on a bye week it was Chase Brown’s 70 yard offensive performance for Illinois, Jared Wayne of Peterborough’s 6 catches for 78 yards and a score for Pittsburgh and Buffalo’s Dominic Johnson of Windsor who made 4 catches for 96 yards and a score who headlined the Canadian playmaker group this weekend. Hawaii’s Nick Mardner also caught 4 passes for 32 yards adding to his 615 yards and 3 touchdowns this season and Penn State’s Theo Johnson, Dominic Johnson’s brother had 41 yards on 4 catches against Ohio State, but the performer of the week on offence would have had to be Johnson of Buffalo with the 96 yard game and a score.
The Canadians playing down south are in for yet another big weekend next week, so stay tuned for that but also be tuned in to both the CFL and U-Sports’ seasons as they both near the playoffs in their respective schedules on the north side of the Canada-USA border.