Leo’s man in the middle
Now, there has always been a continuous turnaround at the QB position, where no one player has dominated for over five years.
And Vancouver almost seems to be stepping stone for most Running Backs as well (Sean Millington excluded).
But over the course of the last 40 years only 4 men have taken regular reps at Center.
Being a bartender in Duncan BC, the Center conversation usually starts with local hero Al Wilson. Thankful for you readers though, it doesn’t stop there. Back in 1972 the BC Lions drafted the Canadian Offensive Lineman out of Montana Univeristy.
Wilson stepped in and took control of the snapping duties by 1974. He didn’t give up the position until 1985, when he retired as a Grey Cup Champion.
I have had the opportunity, on a few occasions, to speak with Al and he is forever grateful for his time with the Lions. He was as tough as they come and even now I bet he’d give Coach Mike Benevides a few snaps if called upon.
Al always makes time for social events centered around football in the Cowichan Valley and was recently placed on Duncan’s Wall of Fame for Athletics.
Upon retiring, Wilson handed the reins to Ian Sinclair. Sinclair was probably the most stable entity of the franchise during the mid to late 80’s and into the 90’s.
Drafted out of the University of Miami, Sinclair brought the tradition of winning from the U to the west coast, where he was a part of both the ‘85 team and the 1994 Cup winning squad.
On a team struggling through poor direction from owners to coaches, Sinclair always seemed to provide a pillar of strength.
The nineties saw the emergence of one of the greatest ambassadors of the CFL to ever play on the O-Line. Although, Jamie Taras was drafted out the University of Western Ontario in 1987 as a Guard he was formed into a fullback for his first four years as a Lion.
Needing to fill a void after the departure of Sinclair, Lions coaching staff asked Taras to make the switch back to Guard and eventually to Center. A wise decision, as number 60 played his way to a ring of honour career earning two Cups, in 1994 and 2000.
During his playing days Taras started his tremendous connections with Lions fans and now carries a role within the organization as Director of Community Relations.
Currently the Lions have hung their hat on Angus Reid, another local lad. Drafted out of SFU by Montreal in 2001, Ried returned home to BC after a trade with the Alouettes.
Since then he has been a rock on the O-Line, anchoring two Grey Cup Championships for BC among numerous CFL All-Star nominations.
Like Taras before him, Angus has taken his game off the field and into the community representing the organization making event stops province wide.
Four guys since ‘72. All of whom have been honoured by the organization, each of them with Grey Cups.
Whether it is skill or luck, or a combination of the two, the Leo’s have been able to rely on not just exceptional players, but exceptional people as the leaders of the O-Line.
When the dust settled, we still weren’t sure who ranked number one but everyone agreed that we are thankful Angus is ready to roll this weekend against Montreal.
Cheers, The Bartender