April 12th, 2024

Blue Bombers are ‘a perpetual motion machine’


By Lethbridge Herald on October 18, 2023.

Graham Kelly

INSIDE THE CFL

According to Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion there is a tendency of objects in motion to stay in motion and objects at rest to remain at rest, unless another force causes its speed and direction to change. This is an apt description of the 2023 CFL season as we approach Halloween and the beginning of the playoffs. Saskatchewan proved again by their failure to clinch third place last Friday at McMahon, that they remain a body at rest, resistant to any change in direction. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers on the other hand have been a perpetual motion machine since hostilities began June 9th.

The Red River team is in first place with a record of 12-4, two points up on the 11-5 Lions. They have scored the most points(513), lead in net offence and are first in rushing with the brilliant Brady Oliveria who has 1426 yards. They are second in passing yardage to B.C. but just seventh in the league in pass attempts. This is indicative of a highly efficient aerial attack and a balanced offence.

Bomber pivot Zach Collaros’ efficiency rating, 112.4, is the best.

Head coach Michael O’Shea has lots of ways to use his Americans because he can field a triple threat of Canadians on offence. Beside Oliveira, there are receivers Nic Demski and Drew Wolitarsky. They join import pass catchers Dalten Schoen,(last year’s Most Outstanding Rookie) Kenny Lawler and Rasheed Bailey.

While Demski and Oliveira were born and raised in Winnipeg, Wolitarsky took a circuitous route to the Forks. “After playing at the University of Minnesota,” he explained, “I was trying out with the Vikings and I got released pretty early on. I learned from my dad that I could possibly get Canadian citizenship and come up here to play. I had no other opportunities in the NFL. The guy I was living with was the grandchild of a friend of Marc Trestman who was coaching Toronto. So I called Marc Trestman and said, ‘I was born in America-Saanta Clarita, Ca.- but I can get citizenship because my mom was from Montreal’. He said, ‘for sure get that citizenship because once you come into the league as a Canadian , you’re a Canadian for good’. So I hired a lawyer, did all the work and made sure I got my citizenship. Then I went into a supplemental draft in 2017, got picked by Winnipeg in the third round. I had never heard of the place. I looked it up and realized It was just two hours north of me. I bought a car that week with money I didn’t have and drove up. The rest is history.”

Nearing the end of his sixth year with Winnipeg, the 6’2”, 224 lb. Wolitarsky has caught 187 passes for 2444 yards and 17 TDs. He has two Grey Cup rings in three tries. Although not ranked in the top 25 in receptions, his average of 14 yards per catch means he is a big play guy, a receiver who can be counted on to pick up a first down and keep a drive alive. His ten yards after a catch average is one of the best. He is a hard man to bring down.

Part of the problem of being a member of such a talented receiving corps is you don’t get that many footballs thrown your way. When I watched him against Calgary he was always open.

“It’s frustrating when you don’t get the ball,” he lamented. “You’ve got to sacrifice, there are a lot of good players out there. I’m not getting as many targets as I’d hope. I want to make the most of whatever opportunities I get.”

Why is their group so good? “There’s always competition among receivers. We also have a great secondary so we are practising against the best which makes us better. Lately I’ve looked at football as an art form so I’m more creative out there.”

What’s it like to be a Blue Bomber? “It does feel good, man. And I don’t want to ever take that for granted. Somedays I’m open and don’t get the ball. But anytime I’m on the field and being part of history, it’s just such an honour and privilege. I know a lot of guys have never got to feel that.”

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