REGINA -- Jon Cornish can now set his sights on Mike Pringle's single-season rushing record.
The Calgary Stampeders running back was the big winner at the CFL awards banquet Thursday night, receiving the league's outstanding player and top Canadian awards. It's the second straight year Cornish was honoured as the league's top Canuck but he's the first homebrew to capture outstanding player honours in 35 years.
And with the two individual honours under his belt, Cornish said he can focus on Pringle's single-season rushing mark of 2,065 yards.
"I think I can focus a little bit on more numerical goals, which I don't really like focusing on because I think they're reasonably selfish, but I need something to focus on," Cornish said. "People have aspired to get that record as recently as this year but I think it's sufficiently far away that in terms of total yardage if I didn't get there and I tried to get there I'd still have a pretty good season."
The last Canadian to be named outstanding player was Ottawa tight end Tony Gabriel in '78. Cornish joins Gabriel and legendary Rough Riders quarterback Russ Jackson as the only Canadian winners of the CFL's top individual honour.
Jackson, 77, of Hamilton, was a three-time winner (1963, '66, '69) and both he and Gabriel, 64, of Burlington, Ont., are Canadian Football Hall of Fame members.
Cornish hopes by being named the CFL's outstanding player he can inspire young Canadians to strive to excel in football.
"I didn't know this was the situation in the CFL that a Canadian hadn't won in a long time," Cornish said. "I'm happy I could do it because I think it will really inspire kids in all different sports to try your best and see what you can do. You never know what you're capable of."
Other Calgary winners included kicker Rene Paredes (special-teams) and centre Brett Jones (rookie). Brendon LaBatte of the Saskatchewan Roughriders was named top lineman while Montreal Alouettes linebacker Chip Cox received the top defensive player award.
Voting was conducted by 42 members of Football Reporters of Canada and the eight CFL head coaches.
Other winners included Montreal linebackers Shea Emry (Jack Gaudaur Veterans Trophy) and Kyries Herbert (Tom Pate Memorial Award, outstanding community service) and longtime Edmonton Eskimos equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak (Commissioners Award for outstanding contribution), who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
The six-foot, 217-pound Cornish received 46 votes for MOP after running for a CFL-high 1,813 yards, the most in a season by a Canadian.
-- The Canadian Press