Above the 49: Matchup of stars highlight CFL's Western Final
By Daniel Fung, Sports Network Columnist
Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - When the BC Lions and Calgary Stampeders meet in Sunday's CFL West Division Final, there will be more than just a berth in the 100th Grey Cup that will capture the viewers' attention.
In a contest that features no shortage of storylines - from the Lions looking to make back-to-back trips to the Grey Cup for the first time since 1963-64 to the Stamps' banged-up quarterback Drew Tate looking to lead his team to the title game for the first time since 2008 - much of the focus will understandably be on the head-to-head battle between two of the most dynamic superstars in the league in running backs Andrew Harris and Jon Cornish.
The clash is the first of what could shape up as the fiercest rivalry in the CFL for years to come between two players that have brought new prominence this season not only to their position but to all Canadian-born talent in the league by starring - and setting new standards - in a role that is normally reserved for imports.
Harris, a West Division All-Star, eclipsed the previous record for most cumulative yards from scrimmage by a Canadian this season with 1,830 yards. He also not only led the Leos in rushing but finished just two yards shy of sharing the team lead in receiving yards as well.
Cornish, also a West Division All-Star, set a new single-season mark for most rushing yards by a Canadian finishing with 1,457. The previous mark of 1,437 had been set back in 1956 by Normie Kwong.
This Sunday's West Division Final, of course, isn't actually the first time that Harris and Cornish will have matched-up against one another in their respective careers or even this season for that matter. It is, however, arguably the first time that they have met since having their respective statuses elevated from being just very good players to being elite, potential future Hall of Famers.
Harris' Lions bested Cornish's Stampeders in two of three meetings during the regular season and in the two games of significance for the Leos - namely the first two meetings of the season as B.C. had already clinched the top spot in the West Division by the time they met for a third time - Harris' numbers were far-and-away more impressive than what Cornish managed to put up.
Cornish, however, got the better of Harris when it came to being recognized for major awards as he was not only named the West Division's Most Outstanding Canadian nominee but also the West Division's Most Outstanding Player nominee. Given what's at stake for both teams on Sunday, it's safe to say that whichever player features more prominently and can guide his respective club to a berth in the 100th Grey Cup will have an early leg up in the debate of who is the better overall player.
Considering Harris and Cornish are just 25 and 28 years of age, respectively, the debate is likely going to be one that rages for many years to come among Canadian football fans not only in B.C. and Calgary but from coast-to-coast thanks to their homegrown status.
It's a debate that may never truly have a definitive answer and the CFL is all the better for it.
11/14 11:09:20 ET