It was seven weeks into the 2011 season, and it looked like you could easily count out the BC Lions after a dismal 1-6 start. Not so fast said the Lions. The Leos rip and tore the opposition apart. The Lions went on to win 8 straight games, and closed the 2011 campaign by winning 10 of their final 11 games overall to finish atop of the West Division. The Lions then ran over the Eskimos in the Western Final and earn the right to host the 99th Grey Cup at home in the newly renovated BC Place against the swag powered Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Travis Lulay threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns in the championship game to lead the Lions to a 34-23 win over the Bombers. Fast Forward to the off season: Wally Buono steps away from his coaching duties allowing defensive coordinator Mike Benevides to take the head coaching job.
Good news for the Lions though, they did manage to keep a good chunk of last year’s grey cup winning team intact. Bad news, they lost a few key faces, especially on defence. The biggest hole the Lions will have to fill will be Lineback Solomon Elimimian, who signed a deal in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. The team also lost one of its best defensive linemen to dawn the orange jersey in Brent Johnson, as he decided to retire. Johnson led the Lions in all time sacks with 89. They also lost DB Davis Sanchez, RB Jamall Lee, LB Aaron Hunt, and DB Jerome Dennis.
The Lions did manage to add a few key players to the roster. They added DB Lin-J Shell and CB Byron Parker, OL Patrick Kabongo, and RB Stu Foord. Foord will serve as a back-up to Andrew Harris.
So what do you expect in the 2012 season? Well you better hope for a better start than 2011. With a good chunk of the grey cup winning team still intact, the Lions enter the season as a serious threat to hoist the silver chalice in Toronto this November.
After a slow start in 2011, Travis Lulay really picked up production, throwing for 4,815 yards and a CFL best 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. While it’s hard to imagine that this could be much better, but sky’s the limit Travis, go nuts.
Among the Lions receivers is one of the best to run the CFL field, “Superman” Geroy Simon. Simon is just 68 yards shy of passing Milt Stegall’s record of 15,153 career receiving yards. Add in the likes of Arland Bruce, Akeem Foster, and Shawn Gore, and you have a deadly receiving corps.
At running back the club will look for Nanaimo native, Andrew Harris to lead the way. Harris brings a lot of flexibility to the Lions backfield with his quickness and ability to catch passes, he’s like an extra receiver.
One of the biggest surprises for the team on offence is that Jovan Olafioye will be back on the line. In what it looked like he was going to be playing for NFL team, St. Louis Rams, he was released because of a medical issue.
The Lions are also happy to bring back Khalif Mitchell, Mitchell was very close to signing a deal with the Dolphins in the NFL, but ultimately felt safer in the CFL (Job wise) then he did in the NFL.
If all things go to plan this year, don’t be surprised if you see the Lions hoisting the Grey Cup once more in Toronto.