A season of highs and lows ended on an impressive peak for Chad Kackert.
The stocky Toronto Argonauts running back was named the outstanding player of the 100th Grey Cup on Sunday. He was not even in the starting lineup for most of the first half of the season, but became a standout in the team’s run to it’s first CFL championship since 2004.
“Everyone wants to prove themselves, but this isn’t golf or tennis, it’s the whole team,” Kackert said Sunday after his team cruised to a 35-22 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. “I’ve had everyone’s support.
”It’s a coincidence the MVP came my way because everyone did their part.”
A week after his sizzling performance in the East Division final at Montreal, when he rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, Kackert plowed through the Calgary defence for 133 yards on 20 tries and added 62 yards on eight catches out of the backfield.
He ran up the middle and around the ends, eating up yards and personifying the Argonauts dominance.
He proved a valuable asset to quarterback Ricky Ray, who could have won the award himself after passing for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re going to run the ball between the tackles, but we need some plays to get him on the perimeter and we were able to do that a few times tonight,” Ray said.
“He does a great job at pass protection but he also has to leak out and be my safety valve on a lot of plays. I was able to give him some opportunities to catch it underneath. And what he does with it afterwards is pretty awesome.”
Times were not always so happy for Kackert, who started the season as No. 2 to Cory Boyd. The second-year Argonaut only took over when Boyd was released eight weeks into the season. The move was controversial, as Boyd was the league’s top rusher at the time.
Kackert was on his way back to Toronto after a short mid-season vacation at the time when he got the call from head coach Scott Milanovich.
“I was coming back from the States and I thought maybe he wanted me to pick up something at the duty free,” Kackert said Sunday. “I was in the car with my girlfriend.
“Just before that I was talking about waiting for an opportunity and not getting it. So when she saw the seriousness on my face, I think she thought I was going to get cut. When I looked over and told her I was going to be the starting running back for the Toronto Argonauts she had a big smile on her face.”
He admitted it wasn’t easy until then.
“I thought I would be more a part of this team when I dressed for the first game in Edmonton, but then I was back to reserve right away,” the Simi Valley, Calif., native said. “When the weeks go by, you think ‘I thought I played well last year, but I guess nobody trusted I could do my job, or maybe the guys ahead of me are better.’
“But then I got an opportunity to do what I’ve been working hard to do since I was a kid.”
Kackert showed the Argos have a multifaceted offence that could compensate for a relatively quiet game from CFL outstanding player Chad Owens, who caught only two passes for 14 yards.
“Chad Owens was outstanding player and maybe they keyed on him and we have a lot of great receivers too,” Kackert said. “You can’t key on anybody in this offence.
“I found some open space and Ricky got the ball to me. I just did my part.”