Canadian running back may finally get chance to shine

Thu, November 1, 2007

Cornish can't wait
UPDATED: 2007-11-01 03:30:43 MST

By RANDY SPORTAK

Jon Cornish can walk you through all his carries so far this season.

Both of them.

Both were option plays, and one was a 12-yard scamper, while the other went for 18 yards.

With any luck, though, when the Calgary Stampeders face the B.C. Lions in the regular season finale Saturday on the West Coast, Cornish will have more touches on his resume to discuss.

Not that the rookie running back is expecting it just yet.

"I'm going into this game like any other game," he said after yesterday's practice at McMahon Stadium. "Before every game -- I'm very big on visualizing my responsibilities -- I'll visualize my responsibilities and this time I'll add running back.

"I'm always prepared to play running back, but it's not the best thing when you know you probably won't be going in."

This weekend could be the opportunity Cornish has spent all season preparing for.

Seeing as the Stamps are firmly entrenched in third place in the West Division and the Leos are atop the standings, the affair at B.C. Place will have no bearings on the standings. Meaning, it would seem to be a meaningless game.

But not for players like Cornish.

The Stamps plan to sit No.-1 running back Joffrey Reynolds, meaning import Ken Simonten and Canadian Cornish will be given their chance.

Simonten is expected to see more carries, but it's a golden chance for the Stamps to see what they have in Cornish, the club's 13th overall draft choice in the 2006 Canadian college draft.

Cornish, who set the single season rushing record at the University of Kansas, doesn't want to assume he'll be counted on more often than he's been all season.

But there is a little extra jump in the thought he could get a bigger chance in his hometown.

"I'll have a lot of people at the game, so hopefully I'll get to show them a little something," said the 22-year-old from New Westminster, B.C. "Hopefully, this is my opportunity.

"In Kansas, I didn't officially start until my last season, so it's really just a rollback to my junior year, when I was the number-two guy. It's something where I'm learning behind two great guys. But hopefully I'll get the reps so I can show what I have learned this season."

And it's an opportunity for the Stampeders braintrust to see whether Cornish can become one those valuable ratio breakers. After all, a Canadian running back, even in a backup role, allows a team to insert an import at a different position.

"It's funny, last year, we had no Canadian backs, and this year we have the three Cs, (Jon) Cornish, (Gerald) Commissiong and (Rob) Cote, and all three are gonna be better football players next year than they are this year," said head coach Tom Higgins.

"That's what happens with time and experience."

This season, Cornish has been given the chance on special teams, returning eight kickoffs for 141 yards, as well as being third with 14 special teams tackles.

"I was in Grade 8 my first year of playing football and I practiced special teams at first, so from that point forward it was something I took really seriously and really loved," he said. "When I'm on it, I just try to go as hard as I can.

"I think it's the thing that helps me separate myself from other guys."

Higgins agreed, saying it's how Cornish has "made his mark" and relayed the story on how former Stamps great Dave Sapunjis worked his way up the ladder with great special teams play.

"I remember the day when Wally (Buono) said, 'No more special teams for him because he's too valuable as a receiver on offence.' I'm thinking, 'Yeah, sure, we develop him as a special teams player and all of a sudden you take him,' " Higgins said.

I would love to see Cornish play tonight, I always like to see a local boy do well. I kept an eye on him while he was in Kansas and he definately has some skill.

Well it will be great for stamp fans as well. He is one of our best special team leaders as well. BC should be proud as well.

Hopefully they give him a shot, seems like a lot of times the Canadian kids don't get the equal opportunity at the skill positions, other than Lumsden in Hamilton.

By the way duster good luck for next weeks game may the best team ( the Stamps) win. :lol:

Didn't see him play myself , but that other guy taking Reynolds spot looked very impressive.

...except he didn't block like Reynolds. Kinda' reminded me of "Lil' Ball of Hate" Ranek... when he was good.

Still would have been nice to see Cornish get some more playtime.

Well I am sure pissed off the fact he was not given a shot.