To catch a CFL legend

UPDATED: 2007-10-12 01:21:20 MST

Lewis chasing Stegall's records

By RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

To the Calgary Stampeders faithful, Sunday's game may very well mark their last chance to see Milt Stegall.

To Nik Lewis, it will likely be one of the last glimpses at a receiver he wants to catch before his own career is complete.

Stegall, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers great, could be chasing passes on the McMahon Stadium turf for the final time in his illustrious career. It appears the CFL's all-time touchdown and touchdown receptions record holder will retire at season's end.

And Lewis, on the verge of cracking the 1,000-yards receiving barrier for the fourth consecutive season, admits he'd love to eclipse the milestones set by Stegall when his career is said and done.

"I'm a big Milt Stegall guy," said Lewis, whose receiving total this season is at 910 yards. "If I can stay healthy, and if I can play and be as competitive and as good as he is at his age, I think I can be at the top of the league breaking his records one day. That'd be a big accomplishment for me -- and a big honour."

Now in his fourth year, Lewis is already reaching lofty heights. He's on the verge of becoming only the third receiver in club history to have four straight 1,000-yard seasons. The others are Terry Vaughn and Travis Moore.

Throw in the fact Lewis only turned 25 in June, it's very real he could wind up alongside the likes of the all-time receiving yardage leaders like former Stamps star Allen Pitts (14,891), Stegall (14,444 and counting), Darren Flutie (14,359) and Vaughn (13,746).

"It's not something I've put a lot of thought into, but when you look at media guide and see the records and see where you are, you say, 'Yeah, I can get this' or 'I would like to get this,' " Lewis said. "I broke all the college records, so you break them and wait for somebody to break yours and have a good time."

Stegall's touchdown mark of 142 and counting -- including 139 touchdown receptions -- would certainly seem an improbable mark to reach.

But that Lewis is eyeing that mark sits well with Stamps head coach Tom Higgins.

"It means you're setting yourself to an elite standard. There's no reason we shouldn't have a bunch of athletes that feel the same way," Higgins said. "You've got to be confident in your abilities if you're an athlete, but it has to be real. It can't be something you wish you'll do but you know darn well isn't possible. You have to remain healthy, and he has shown durability.

"I think it's absolutely marvelous he has that type of long-term goal."

As well, it's a sign of a more focused Lewis, whose youth has been a detriment at times, too.

"He had a lot of success early, and he knew that it was about getting back to what he did before to be successful -- work hard, make sure he knows what he's doing, catch the ball if it's close and break some tackles," Higgins said. "He's put himself on track.

"The play of our quarterback has had a positive influence on him, but I also believe the maturity of our receivers now is a lot different than it was a year ago. I think they bring more of a professional attitude toward the game."

By the way, Vaughn holds the CFL mark with 11 consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns.

Just the fact Lewis -- who is proud to say he's the only player to have three 1,000-yard seasons before turning 25 -- can be put in the same class as Vaughn and Moore already is a big deal.

"For real?," he asked when told how few players in club history racked up four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. "Yeah, it is elite company. I'm just glad the coaches have enough faith in me to get me the ball as much as they do."

Lewis is a very good player and only 25. He's one who could do it. I wish him the the best of luck and good health.

Nice to see someone wanting to stay here and go after a CFL record, recognizes that CFL records are worth striving for. Nice stuff.

…a very good receiver…who could be great…and the name Lewis alone smacks of greatness in the Peg…no relation to Leo though…or is he… :roll: :wink:

No Dad he is not a relative.

I actually had no idea he was only 25 yet, lofty goals to set but still young enough to make a run at them.

Yes he was 21 when he came up to play for the Stamps! Just a youngster!