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Seven Argos Players Named 2021 East Division All-Stars

The CFL announced on Wednesday its All-Star teams for the 2021 season. The Argos have seven players who have made the East Division All-Star team.

Three on offence, QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, WR Kurleigh Gittens Jr., and OL Peter Nicastro. Three on defence. DL Shawn Oakman, LB Chris Edwards, and D.B. Shaq Richardson. And arguably Toronto’s most outstanding player this year on special teams in Kicker/Punter/Kickoff specialist Boris Bede.

On Wednesday, Boris Bede was also named a CFL Top Performer for the month of November.

The Seven Argos All-Stars are the most the franchise has had since their last championship season in 2017 when they had 10.

The 9-5 Argos will be hosting the East Final at BMO Field on Sunday, December 5th. The Boatmen will be squaring off with this Sunday’s Semi-Final winner between the Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

SEVEN ARGOS NAMED EAST DIVISION ALL-STARS IN 2021

TORONTO – The Canadian Football League announced 2021 East and West Division All-Stars today, and seven Toronto Argonauts were honoured in the East, including QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, WR Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Centre Peter Nicastro, DL Shawn Oakman, LB Chris Edwards, DB Shaq Richardson, and K Boris Bede. This is the most All-Stars the Double Blue had had since 2017 when they had 10.

Bethel-Thompson suited up for 14 games in 2021, starting nine, while going 203-for-306 for 2,303 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 2019 CFL passing touchdown leader (26) was 7-2 as a starter and helped guide the Argos to nine wins this season and first place in the East for the first time since 2017. The California native and four-year Argo became the seventh-leading passer in Boatmen history this season and has thrown for over 8,500 career yards. MBT is also Toronto’s team nominee for Most Outstanding Player.

Gittens Jr., Toronto’s 23rd overall selection in the 2019 CFL Draft, truly broke out in 2021, hauling in 50 catches for 605 yards and four touchdowns. The Wilfrid Laurier product finished 15th in CFL receiving yards and second amongst Canadian pass catchers. The Ottawa native leads the Argos in touchdown catches and is second in yards behind Ricky Collins Jr. The 5’11, 191lb receiver had only one catch in 2019 but stayed dedicated to his craft during the canceled 2020 season, and his hard work paid off this season. Gittens Jr. is the Argos nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian.

Nicastro, Toronto’s first-round pick (seventh overall) during the 2021 CFL Draft, was forced into action early in his CFL career and played like a seasoned veteran from day one. The Calgary native started at left guard week one and held that position for four games before an injury to starting centre Phil Blake forced Nicastro into snapping duties. The 6’2, 305-pound lineman, started the next seven games at centre before an injury ended his rookie regular season. Starting 11 games your rookie season at two different positions for a first-place team is quite an impressive feat for the 22-year-old. Nicastro is also the team’s nominee for Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and Most Outstanding Rookie.

Oakman had a stellar debut season in the CFL, bringing down opposing quarterbacks six times with 36 total tackles. The Texas native’s six sacks were second-most in the CFL from the interior of the defensive line, and his 36 tackles were also second-most amongst all defensive linemen. The 6’9, 287lb lineman lived up to his height knocking down four balls from the line of scrimmage this season, good for third-most in the league amongst defensive linemen.

In his first season with Toronto, Edwards was all over the field, posting 38 total tackles and three sacks while intercepting three passes for a league-high 162 yards and two touchdowns. The four-year CFL veteran’s three picks were a career-high and tied for third-most in the league this season. The 28-year-old played all 14 games this season and was tied for first on the Argos in interceptions, tied for second in sacks, and fourth in total tackles.

Richardson shut down opposing receivers all season long and racked up 37 total tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery in 14 games played. The second-year Argo and four-year CFL veteran finished tied for first on Toronto in interceptions, led the team in forced fumbles, and was fifth in total tackles, one behind fellow All-Star Edwards. The Arizona product had a game-sealing interception in week one against Calgary and a late dagger in week eight after intercepting Vernon Adams of Montreal with less than five minutes remaining in a one-score game, leading to a field goal and a win.

Bede, the six-year CFLer, had a sensational season in 2021, making 28-of-33 field goals (85%), including six from 50+ yards, three better than any other kicker in the league this season and two off the all-time record. The CFL’s all-time leader in kickoff average once again led the league in that category with an average of 67.4, including one 95 yard boot. The Laval product’s most iconic moment in 2021 came in week 10 when he launched a 51-yard bomb right down the middle of the uprights as time expired in a 24-23 Argos win at Tim Hortons Field against Hamilton. Bede was named a Top Performer in Week 13 after kicking five field goals, including two from 50+ in a win vs. B.C. Bede is the Boatmen’s nominee for Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. This is Bede’s second East All-Star nomination.

CFL All-Star Announcements

The Canadian Football League announced the 2021 East and West Division All-Stars. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers lead all teams with 15 All-Star selections, while the Hamilton Tiger-Cats top the East Division with ten. A total of 14 National players were selected.

Calgary punter Cody Grace of Perth, Western Australia, has become the first global player to be selected as a CFL All-Star.

The East Division All-Stars were selected by the voting members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) from the East Division markets and the National Chapter, and the East Division head coaches. 

The voting members of the FRC selected the West Division All-Stars from the West Division markets and the National Chapter, and the West Division head coaches.

The 2021 CFL All-Stars will be announced in late December.

2021 EAST AND WEST DIVISION ALL-STARS

 East Division West Division
PosOffence Offence
QBMcLeod Bethel-Thompson (TOR) Zach Collaros (WPG)
RBWilliam Stanback (MTL) Ka’Deem Carey (CGY)
RECEugene Lewis (MTL) Kenny Lawler (WPG)
RECJake Wieneke (MTL) Lucky Whitehead (B.C.)
RECKurleigh Gittens Jr. (TOR)* Bryan Burnham (B.C.)
RECTim White (HAM) Kamar Jorden (CGY)
RECJaelon Acklin HAM) Nic Demski (WPG)*
CENPeter Nicastro (TOR)* Sean McEwen (CGY)*
GBrandon Revenberg (HAM)* Drew Desjarlais (WPG)*
GKristian Matte (MTL)* Patrick Neufeld (WPG)*
OTLandon Rice (MTL)* Stanley Bryant (WPG)
OTChris Van Zeyl (HAM)* Jermarcus Hardrick (WPG)
 Defence Defence
DEJa’Gared Davis (HAM) Jackson Jeffcoat (WPG)
DEDavid Ménard (MTL)* Willie Jefferson (WPG)
DTDylan Wynn (HAM) Micah Johnson (SSK)
DTShawn Oakman (TOR) Mike Rose (CGY)
LBSimoni Lawrence (HAM) Adam Bighill (WPG)
LBAvery Williams (OTT) Darnell Sankey (CGY)
CLBChris Edwards (TOR) Alden Darby (WPG)
CBJumal Rolle (HAM) DeAundre Alford (WPG)
CBMonshadrick Hunter (MTL) Nick Marshall (SSK)
HBCariel Brooks (HAM) T.J. Lee (B.C.)
H.B.Shaquille Richardson (TOR) Deatrick Nichols (WPG)
STunde Adeleke (HAM)* Brandon Alexander (WPG)
 Special Teams Special Teams
KBoris Bede (TOR) Rene Paredes (CGY)*
PRichie Leone (OTT) Cody Grace (CGY)^
STDeVonte Dedmon (OTT) Mike Miller (WPG)*

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