With the CFL awards coming up this week, the Toronto Argonauts are hoping Peter Nicastro and Ryan Dinwiddie come away with some hardware.
When a team goes from a 4-14 record to clinching first place in their division, they’re bound to get some recognition. The Toronto Argonauts got some when the final nominees for the CFL awards were announced.
Up for coach of the year is Ryan Dinwiddie, who showed why the Argos were right to put their faith in a rookie head coach. Sure it wasn’t a perfect season as he made some questionable decisions from the sideline but he also found ways to help the team overcome tough losses and having to bring on a new defensive co-ordinator in the middle of the season.
Dinwiddie will have some tough competition with Winnipeg Blue Bombers Mike O’Shea also getting nominated. Considering the dominant season the Blue Bombers had, it wouldn’t be disappointing for the Argos head coach to lose out to O’Shea.
On the other end, rookie offensive lineman Peter Nicastro will represent the East as the nominee for rookie of the year going up against B.C. Lions linebacker Jordan Williams. Like Dinwiddie, Nicastro is going to have a tough battle to win the award considering Williams set the single-season record for tackles by a Canadian rookie with 81.
It’s always going to be tough for an offensive lineman to get the recognition he deserves considering there are limited stats to base his play on. At the same time, if you followed Nicastro’s season, there are many reasons why he is deserving of the nomination.
When the Argos took the Calgary native with the seventh overall pick in the 2021 CFL Draft, they were ecstatic considering he was the top player on their draft board.
"“We felt good about him and then he had to go out and prove it. He’s just a professional,” Dinwiddie said about for a young kid to come in and do the things he did, unfortunately, he got hurt at the end of the year but you know, he’s deserving of the nomination. I’m happy and proud of the work that he accomplished this season.”"
The Argos didn’t ease Nicastro into his role on the offensive line as he started out as the team’s starting left guard before getting moved over to centre and thrived with the opportunity. Unfortunately, his regular season was cut short by a knee injury that he is hoping will not be an issue for the East final.
Playing his first season of professional football, Nicastro noted the adjustment to playing against opposing defenders who were tough to block regardless of whether they were a starter or rotational player.
CFL football is something that is near and dear to Nicastro’s family as they have been season ticket holders in for about 30 to 40 years. Now they get to watch the young offensive lineman who is only going to get better with more experience under his belt.
“I’m still young, I’m only 22, so I hope you know I believe I can get a more done in the career and I get more wins and the Grey Cup remains the main goal,” Nicastro said. “I think the coaching staff here really pushed me to be at my best and I’m so excited to see what happens next.”
With the way his rookie season went, the Argos have a cornerstone player at a pivotal position who will likely be in the conversation for top Canadian going forward.