Micah Awe, Mike Rose, Reggie Begelton honoured league-wide

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Reggie Begelton plans to be back with the Red and White for the 2024 CFL season.

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The sure-handed receiver is signed, sealed and delivered, making it so one of three Calgary Stampeders named to the CFL all-star squad is squared away for next year.

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But the other two?

“That’s a question for my agent,” defensive lineman Mike Rose said. “Hopefully we can make this work. I mean, I don’t want to go anywhere.

“I hope that if they want me here, I’ll be here.”

One would think the same goes for linebacker Micah Awe, too, after his record-setting season of tackles for the Stampeders.

After the trio was named to the West Division all-star lineup one week earlier — along with teammate and centre Sean McEwen — Begelton, Rose and Awe were tabbed with the added league honour Wednesday.

“It means a lot — it means you were doing your job,” Begelton said of his all-star recognition. “You came here at the beginning of the year with a goal in mind. The goal is to win — the goal is to win the Grey Cup. But individually, you want to play your best ball. And it just proves that I showed enough that I’m able to get it done.”

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This is the third consecutive season Rose, 31, has been honoured as a league all-star. It’s a second all-star nod for Begelton, 30, and a first for 29-year-old Awe.

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Begelton was the team’s leader in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,119) and receiving touchdowns (five). Despite missing three games in 2023, the veteran slotback ranked second in the CFL in catches and sixth in receiving yards.

Begelton had four games with at least 100 receiving yards this season, including a 203-yard performance against the Toronto Argonauts. He had a season-high 13 catches in a game against the Montreal Alouettes. And Begelton caught eight balls for 112 yards — both team-highs — in last Saturday’s 41-30 West semifinal loss to the host B.C. Lions.

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Rose led all CFL defensive tackles and set a career high by registering 11 sacks this season. His stat totals also include 24 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Rose had a pair of two-sack games in 2023 — in a game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 16 and versus the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sept. 30.

Calgary Stampeders Mike Rose takes part in team practice at McMahon Stadium on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.
Calgary Stampeders Mike Rose takes part in team practice at McMahon Stadium on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Awe, meanwhile, set a franchise single-season record by racking up 134 defensive tackles for the third-highest total in CFL history.

In his first season with the Stamps, the veteran also led the CFL with 153 defensive plays, including four tackles for loss, six special-teams stops, two sacks, three interceptions, one forced fumble and three knockdowns.

All told, it would be a nice trio to build around moving forward.

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Stamps Micah Awe celebrates a sack during CFL action between the Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium in Calgary
Stamps Micah Awe celebrates a sack during CFL action between the Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, July 23, 2023. Jim Wells/Postmedia

“Since everybody’s a free agent on the team, basically, we’ve got to decide,” Stampeders GM/head coach Dave Dickenson said of the off-season work ahead of him.

“First off, we want most of the players back, but what’s it going to cost? When you have a good season, a lot of times guys are looking to get raises. When you’re not having a good season, obviously you might have a chance to sign more of those guys. But you also want to have some change because you didn’t get the job done.”

The six-win Stamps, of course, fall into the latter category.

“We need to bring in competition, because competition breeds best play,” Dickenson continued. “And we really didn’t have a lot of that at the end of the year because we didn’t have a lot of healthy bodies.”

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One of the unhealthy ones was defensive star James Vaughters, who shapes up to be a priority re-signing for Dickenson in the off-season.

His loss, after just six games in his return to the club following a four-year NFL hiatus, was felt big-time across the Stamps defensive line — an arm injury keeping him from his appointed sacks.

Dickenson wants Vaughters back.

Calgary Stampeders James Vaughters in 2018
Calgary Stampeders defensive lineman James Vaughters celebrates after a sack against Montreal Alouettes quarterback Matthew Shiltz at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on July 21, 2018. Al Charest/Postmedia

“We won’t get everybody back,” admitted Dickenson, which could be for the better given the team’s sub-par 6-12 regular-season record and early playoff exit. “But I’m more concerned with guys — especially our hurt guys — coming back and being who they are supposed to be and finding ways to increase our talent level.”

Vaughters, running back Ka’Deem Carey — who missed more than half the season due to injury — veteran offensive lineman Hugh Thornton, drafted linebacker Silas Stewart, young defensive lineman T.J. Rayam, talented defensive back Titus Wall and pass-catchers Malik Henry, Clark Barnes and Jalen Philpot all fit that category.

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And many of them are free agents.

“We’ve got a lot (of free agents),” Dickenson said. “But we’ve had a lot in the past, too. It’s just kind of, in my opinion, the way the CFL is now. It’s a lot of one-year deals right now.

“It’s just about being in good communication with your guys and try to be honest with everybody — and vice-versa, that the information you’re getting is truthful coming back at ya. We don’t have a lot of room under the cap to sign guys for the season, because we had so many injuries that we kept signing players and kept trying to make it work. So most of our business will get done following the new year.”

Calgary Stampeders Dave Dickenson
Calgary Stampeders Dave Dickenson speaks to media at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, November 5, 2023. The Stamps season ended with a playoff loss to the BC Lions. Jim Wells/Postmedia

Nonetheless, it will be a busy off-season for GM Dickenson, especially after a rough regular season.

“There’s certainly guys that improved their stock and other guys that their stock fell,” Dickenson added. “We’ve got to look elsewhere and see what’s out there. And we’ve got to find new talent. That’s got to be a huge goal for us, is making sure we’ve got some young guys coming in who can be their own stars in the league.

“That’s what we’ll do, and we’ll put it together as best we can.”


X: @ToddSaelhofPM

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