top of page
  • Writer's pictureNoah Beausoleil

2022 CFL Kicker and Punter Recap + Awards

The 2022 Season has officially ended this week with a battle for the ages between the Toronto Argonauts (Eventual Champions!) and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Special Teams were a massive component in this game, but I will touch on that later. For now, I welcome you to my 2022 Between The Goalposts Kicker and Punter Awards!

 

Kickers

Before we jump into how each kicker performed this season, I want to look at the league-wide statistics. This year we saw the 9 CFL teams employ 10 kickers. That means only 1 team replaced their kicker this year. Impressive considering that there has been a healthy kicker carousel in the past few years.


Throughout the 86 regular and Post-Season games we saw 482 field goal attempts, which rounds to about 5.6 field goals per game, or about 2.8 field goals per kicker, per game. The kickers were at their best in Week 1 when they attempted 22 field goals and made 21 of them (95.5%). Start off strong I guess. Of those 482 FG attempts, we saw 412 of them go through the uprights. This was good for a league-wide field goal percentage of 85.5%.


During this same time, kickers attempted 376 point after attempts, which averages out to about 4.4 converts a game, or 2.2 converts per kicker, per game. They performed the best in Week 19 when they connected on 100% of the 21 PATs they kicked. The kickers fared much better with PATs, which was expected, and made 352 of their 376 attempts. This works out to a completion percentage of 93.6%.


The fact that this is a yearly recap means that instead of listing the players in our Power Rankings, I will be listing the Team names and discussing how they came to employ their current kicker. Without further ado, let's discuss how each of the kickers performed throughout the season with a look at my Final (un)Official 2022 CFL Kicker Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Calgary Stampeders - It will not come as a surprise to see that Rene Paredes will win the Gold Medal this year. His name appears on the West Division and CFL All-Star lists marking his 6th and 5th appearances respectively. He finished the year attempting a league-high 63 field goals and making an incredible 90.5% (57 made). 2022 marks his 6th season with a completion percentage over 90%. He also only missed 2 PAT attempts on 50 attempts. Even more impressive, he connected on 5 of his 6 field goal attempts over 50 yards. My favourite games? During Weeks 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, the future Hall-of-Famer went 16/18 (88%). What's more impressive is that he was 5/6 (83.3%) on field goals over 50 yards. Even more impressive, Rene Paredes was able to mark a new career-long for field goal distance when he hit a 53 yarder in Week 8. With the conclusion of the 2022 season, Paredes was going to be a Free Agent and I wasn't sure what he was going to do. Neither was he, stating that the odds of him playing in 2023 were 50/50. The Stampeders were lucky it seems, as they were able to sign Rene to a 1-year contract extension through the 2023 season.

  2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats - It may come as a surprise to some to see Seth Small's name highlighted for the Silver Medal. When the season started, the Ti-Cats called Michael Domagala's number for all 3 kicking duties. After 4 weeks, and a Bye, Domagala was 13/17 (76%) on field goals and 4/5 on Converts. Evidently, the Tiger-Cats didn't think this was good enough and released him. And so it was Rookie Seth Small's time to shine. He came into the league swinging (his leg) and impressed everyone. Over a total of just 15 games, Small made 42 of his 46 field goal attempts. This was good for a completion percentage of 91.3%, which is 2nd best in the CFL! He also went 26/27 on PAT converts, missing just 1 in Week 18. During Week 12, Seth Small showed off his big leg when he kicked a 58 yard field goal for not only the 2022 CFL Season record for Longest Field Goal but also the record for the Longest Field Goal in Hamilton Tiger-Cats History! He also showed impressive consistency, making 11/14 of his kicks over 40 yards (4/5 on 50+ yards). I am looking forward to, and expecting, him to continue his CFL journey with the Ti-Cats in 2023.

  3. B.C Lions - The B.C Lions made my favourite move of the 2022 Free Agency Period and snagged 36-year-old Sean Whyte. The B.C native returned home in his 13th season to the team that brought him into the CFL all the way back in 2009. He showed why he deserves the Bronze Medal, making 40 of his 43 attempts on the season. This was good for a completion percentage of 93%, which was the best in the 2022 CFL Season! The statistic I am most impressed by was the PATs attempted. Sean Whyte attempted a staggering 60 PATs and was on pace to make 93 convert attempts at one point during the middle of the season. This would have easily broken the record for Most Converts in a Season (80, Mark Mcloughlin, '94). I believe if Rourke was healthy, Sean would have done it. Whyte solidified himself further as the most accurate kicker after making 59/60 of his converts over the course of 20 games. While he did manage a long of 50 yards back in Week 3, he wouldn't attempt another kick over 50 yards. Sean Whyte will be back for another year of automatic kicks because it was announced on December 7th that he would re-sign with the B.C. Lions for the 2023 season!

  4. Montreal Alouettes - David Côté will be our first runner-up in these Specialist Awards. He had a great 2nd year with the Alouettes and was given an increased workload, as well as a longer leash. Throughout the 2022 Season, Côté went 50/57 (87.7%) on field goals and 41/42 on PATs. He was given another opportunity in Week 7 to match his Career Long of 49 yards, and he made it easily! He did that again in Week 9, though his night was tainted by a 50 yard field goal miss. He was finally given another opportunity in Week 16 when he hit a Career Long of 51 yards! David followed that performance up with a tough Week 17 game, where he was 1/3 on field goals. He did, however, make a new Career and Season Long field goal from 52 yards out! He has shown he can make those kicks but needs to be more consistent, as he only made 2/7 of his attempts over 50 yards. While I am impressed with how Côté has played this year, he also kicked a lot of short, short field goals (13 under 20 yards). He is still under contract with the Als for the 2023 CFL Season and I am excited to see what he does next year!

  5. Edmonton Elks - Sergio Castillo will round out our Top 5 in this year's Power Rankings. Castillo wobbled a bit in the first 7 weeks of the 2022 season, making just 18/23 (78%) of his field goals. After a Week 8 Bye, where Castillo had some divine intervention, he went 19/20 (95%). He finished the season with a respectable 86% completion percentage, making 37/43 field goals and 26/29 PATs on the season. In Week 11 he managed to hit a long of 52 yards, which matched his longest field goal from last season. I think Sergio had a great season with the Elks and am looking forward to him closing out his 2-year contract in 2023. If the last 3/4th of the season is anything to go off of, I predict Castillo will be even better next year!

  6. Ottawa Redblacks - Lewis Ward is the cut-off for what I considered a "Good" season. Ward was an anomaly this year. He was able to turn things around in the later part of the season but for a while, Ward was only completing 51% of his field goals over 40 yards (15/29 since 2021). As I mentioned, he did turn things around and finished off the remaining games going 9/10 on kicks over 40 yards and 3/3 on kicks over 50 yards. His last two weeks were really what pushed him back into my good graces, as he went 5/5 on field goals and 4/4 on PATs and3 of those field goals were over 50 yards, which Ward needed to make. His longest kick of the season also came during those 2 weeks, from 51 yards out! He managed to make 25/27 Convert attempts through the season as well. Lewis Ward is in a position to face Free Agency in Feb. 2023, with his contract expiring this year. Given his track record, I would think the Redblacks will bring him back for at least 1 more year, maybe 2, depending on how worried they are about his accuracy from 40+ yards out.

  7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers - Marc Liegghio had a better year than 2022, and that's what I think is most important to remember going into this discussion. He managed to make 82% of his kicks (up from 62% in 2022) and 59/67 PATs. Converts were Marc's downfall this year, missing a league-leading 8 point after attempts. We learnt that Liegghio has a pretty big leg this year, seeing him make a 55 yard, game-winning field goal in Week 13, which coincidentally was his best game ever. That 55 yarder was good for not only his 2022 Season Long but his Career Long as well! The fall from grace is due to his poor performance during the playoffs. He really let Winnipeg's fanbase down. He went just 4/5 on field goals and 3/6 on PATs. Those missed points are what lost the game for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup. Liegghio is under contract for the 2023 season and I expect the Winnipeg coaching staff to give him another year to see if they can unlock the monster we know Liegghio can be. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw some competition come training camp. Enjoy this meme I made because I like Marc Liegghio.

  8. Saskatchewan Roughriders - Brett Lauther had a down year. He went 41/50 on his field goal attempts (82%) and was 25/27 on PATs. For a kicker of his calibre, with such a huge leg, I wasn't expecting him to go 13/19 (68%) on kicks over 40 yards. It's those stats, as well as a low number of attempted PATs that will keep him where he is on the list. He did hit a whopping 57 yard field goal during Week 4 against Montreal. This kick ended up being his longest field goal of the 2022 Season and matched his Career Long as well. I want to see a bit more consistency from Lauther from further distances before I start handing out any praise. Average CFL kickers should be perfect under 40 yards, but Brett is a guy who I expect to be above average. Lauther signed a 2-year contract last year and will most likely play out the final year of this contract in Sask during the 2023 season. The Roughriders will bring in competition although you can expect an article on that coming later this week.

  9. Toronto Argonauts - Boris Bede will round out our Power Rankings sitting in the Ninth Position. Unfortunately, my favourite player did not have a great year, statistically speaking. He matched Rene Paredes for the highest number of field goal attempts (63), however, he only made 48 of them (76.2%). He also went 39/42 on PATs. As we've seen from other kickers, Bede's issues began when he lined up for field goals over 40 yards. In 2022 he only made 17/30 (56%) of his attempts over 40 yards, and 3/7 (42%) attempts over 50. However, he did make an impressive 56 yard field goal in Week 12 that ended up being, not only his Season Long but also his Career Long! Boris has the biggest leg in the CFL, so I can see why the Argos would line him up for a league-leading 7, 50+ yard attempts but yikes. I'd like to see him make more of those long kicks next year. The real question is whether or not the Argonauts bring him back next season. Personally, I think the Double Blue would be dumb not to bring him back for camp, but I would not rule out bringing in some competition.

 

Punters

Punting is a unique position in the CFL and it is one I've had a lot of difficulty evaluating in the past. This year, I took the initiative to revamp the statistics I use to analyze the performance of punters in the CFL using my own ideas, as well as suggestions from community members such as yourself. The 9 CFL teams employed a staggering 16 punters this year for a variety of reasons, which I intend to dissect for you below. Before I get to discussing each player specifically, however, I would like to discuss league-wide statistics. During the regular and post-season games this year, punters in the CFL registered a striking 952 punts. This works out to be about 11 punts per game, or 5.5 punts per punter, per game. Interestingly enough, this is almost exactly double the number of field goals attempted per game. Over nearly a thousand punts, punters were able to rack up a mind-boggling 43,931 yards. An impressive average of roughly 46 yards per punt. A slightly less important statistic to note is that punters were able to amass 34,943 Net yards or roughly 36.7 Net yards per punt. Also important to note that the league-wide percentage for punts pinned inside the 20 yard line is roughly 23%.


Again, the fact that this is a yearly recap, means that instead of listing the players in our Power Rankings, I will be listing the Team names and discussing how they came to employ their current punter. Without further ado, let's discuss how each of the punters performed throughout the season with a look at my Final (un)Official 2022 CFL Punter Power Rankings;

Working top-down;

  1. Calgary Stampeders - Tragedy struck the Calgary headlines before the first week of the 2022 CFL season. Punter Cody Grace suffered a groin injury during practice. What did the Stamps do? They decided to trade a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 CFL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2023 Global draft to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in return for Australian punter James Smith. Smith played 3 games for the stamps and started out really strong, punting 7 times for 359 yards (51.3 Avg, 44.7 Net Avg.) in his first game. It wouldn't last forever, though, as Cody Grace was ready to play by Week 5. Smith ended the season with 18 punts, a 44.2 Avg., and a 36.1 Net Avg. After his injury, Cody Grace returned to start the remaining 16 games for the Stamps and will be awarded our Gold Medal for his work! During this time he solidified himself as the CFL's best punter and it isn't even close. Through 86 punts, he managed an average of 47.9 yards per punt, and an even more impressive 39.4 Net yards per punt (League-leader for both categories). He also led the league in the percentage of punts inside the 20 yard line, pinning his opponents deep just under 30% of the time (Grace also managed 8 punts inside the 10 yard line). Despite only punting only 86 times, he managed to come third in the league for the number of punts over 50 yards (43 punts of 50+ yards). His best performance came in Week 17, where he punted 9 times for 466 yards (51.8 Avg.) and 398 Net yards (44.2 Net Avg.). If that stat line isn't crazy enough for you, he also managed 5 punts over 50 yards and pinned 2 inside the 20 yard line (1 at the 7 yard line). My favourite play, however, came on this crazy punt, where Grace showed his grit and recovered his own punt, dislocating his pinky in the process. Grace is locked in through the 2023 CFL season, so barring a job opportunity in the NFL, We will be seeing him suit up beside Paredes again next year.

  2. Ottawa Redblacks - Richie Leone will be awarded our Silver Medal for his work in the 2022 CFL Season, though he made a damn good impression on just about anyone watching the league. Leone was one of only 3 punters to eclipse 5k punting yards this year (He did it on 112 punts, the lowest number of punts of the 3). On his 112 punts, he averaged 46.4 yards a punt, but what's more impressive is that he was able to average 38.7 Net yards per punt. Leone led the league in Net yards acquired, sitting at 4,329, about 200 more than the runner-up. He couldn't quite match Grace's inside the 20 percentage, sitting at 27%, but he did lead the league in the number of punts inside the 20 yard line with 30. In my opinion, his best week came in Week 8 where he had this crazy stat line of 6 punts for 276 yards and 279 Net yards. How often do you see a punter's Net yardage higher than their punt yards? The Ottawa Redblacks obviously know how important Leone is to their special teams unit, as they re-signed the four-time CFL All-Star on December 7th

  3. Toronto Argonauts - Australian Rookie John Haggerty (not to be confused with DB Josh Hagerty) was a bright spot on an otherwise dull Toronto special teams unit and it will earn him the Silver Medal. He played a total of 15 games for the club, but before I discuss that, I would like to touch on Boris Bede. During Week 14, Haggerty was injured and did not practice before their Week 16 game against Ottawa. Boris Bede came in and showed that he can still be an efficient 3-way kicker, punting a total of 5 times for 248 yards (49.6 Avg.) and 203 Net yards (40.6 Net Avg.) with 1 punt inside the 20 yard line, and 3 punts travelling further than 50 yards. Back on topic, Haggerty finished the season punting a league-leading 115 times and racked up a league-leading 5,504 yards. He was the only punter to surpass 5.5 thousand yards. He managed to finish the season with 36 Net yards per punt and pinned the other team inside their own 20 yard line 24% of the time (which is ultimately what gave him the edge into the 3rd position over our next punter). Speaking of pinning your opponent deep, Haggerty also leads the league in the number of punts within the 10 yard line (10 punts recorded). Where he stood out, however, was with how many punts he hit over 50 yards, which was an imposing 51 punts. From Week 1, Haggerty improved his craft and even managed a stretch of 9 weeks where he punted over the league average of 46 yards per punt. My favourite display of his was probably during Week 13 where he punted 9 times for 479 yards (53.2 Avg.) and 415 Net yards (46.1 NetAvg.). 5 of those 9 punts were over 50 yards and 2 landed inside the 20 yard line. Haggerty will remain under contract for the Argos for the 2023 season.

  4. B.C Lions - Stefan Flintoft will jump into our runner-up position after putting up very solid numbers throughout the season. He finishes with 114 punts, 5.357 yards, and 4,169 Net yards. This works out to about 47 yards and 36 Net yards per punt. He rivalled Haggerty in just about every category, coming just short in for pinning his opponents deep (9 punts inside the 10 yard line) and punts over 50 yards (50 punts over 50 yards is a cool stat). The reason he didn't crack the top three? He only pinned his opponents inside the 20 yard line 19% of the time, which is below the league average of 23%, and Haggerty's 24%. My favourite Flintoft performance was during his Week 12 game where he had an insane stat line of 8 punts for 414 yards (51.8 Avg.) and 6 punts over 50 yards. Flintoft enjoyed another year of high-level play and is under contract through the 2023 season, meaning the two-headed monster that is Flintoft and Whyte will be returning to B.C. next year!

  5. Montreal Alouettes - Joseph Zema will slide into the Fifth Position this year and will mark the last of what I would consider "Locks" for 2023. Entering his second season with the Als I was expecting Zema to continue developing as a prospect and develop he did. He ended his year punting 94 times for 4,446 yards (47.3 Avg.) and 3,541 Net yards (37.7 Net Avg.). While he edged out Flintoft in Net yardage and inside the 20 percentage, he fell short for punts over 50 yards, which is what gave Flintoft the edge over him. Just saying, over the last 7 games of the season, Zema only had 3 punts over 50 yards. His best week came in Week 10 when he punted 6 times for an average of 49.2 yards, a Net average of 40 yards, had 33% of his punts land inside the 20 yard line and had 4 punts over 50 yards. Zema is still under his rookie contract and will be returning to the Alouette's dressing room for the 2023 season. Truthfully, depending on what you value in a punter, you could argue the 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions could be interchangeable.

  6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers - Marc Liegghio had an interesting season as a full-time kicker performing field goals, kickoffs, and, of course, punts. As a punter, he finished the season with 106 punts and accumulated 4,883 yards (46.1 Avg.) and 3,777 Net yards (35.6 Net Avg.). He was leading the league in terms of punts inside the 20 yard line for a while but didn't close out the season quite as efficiently as some other punters on this list. While I think he had a good season, considering how 3-way-kickers usually do, I am not 100% confident he will be back as the Bomber's punter in 2023. His average yards per punt was exactly league average, and so were most of his other stats. His best work came early this season in Week 3. He punted 9 times for a season-high of 54.6 yards per punt, with 7 of those punts going 50+ yards. Liegghio also had 3 of them land within the 20 yard line (and 1 of those land inside the 10). My favourite moment, however, was in Week 13 against the Roughriders. Once the ball was snapped, a Rider found an open lane and took to it fast. Staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, Marc Liegghio stays calm and ponders his options. He decided to be a badass and break the ankles of the free-rusher and manages to pop off a 49 yard punt to the SSK 20. I believe that the Bombers will bring in competition to push Marc toward greatness. The question remains if Liegghio can beat the said competition.

  7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats - O.k. This is where things get rough. From here on out, I can't say whether or not these players will be back in 2023 for their respective teams. The Hamilton Ti-Cats started the year with Simon Laryea and allowed him to play 4 games before giving him the boot. When the team moved on from Domagala as their kicker, they would be losing a Canadian player, so instead, they just kept him on the team as a punter. Interestingly enough, Hamilton had just signed veteran punter Jon Ryan a week prior (we'll talk about Jon later.) and I wasn't really sure why Domagala was being kept on the roster. I thought for sure he would be relegated to the practice squad but after a couple of weeks, it was apparent that the Tiger-Cats didn't intend on playing Ryan and kept Domagala as their starter. It didn't end the way Domagala wanted. He ended up playing 13 games for the Cats before getting released. During his time there he punted 65 times for an average of 44.8 yards and 36.6 Net yards per punt. He also only got the ball to land inside the 20 yard line 20% of the time. This would prove to be a lateral move considering Laryea was on pace to put up extremely similar numbers. During Week 21 Hamilton finally made a change and brought in Aussie punter Blake Hayes, and despite only playing 2 games, he should enough promise that I assume he will be brought in as the starter for the beginning of camp in 2023. He finished the year punting 12 times for 563 yards (47 Avg.) and 430 Net yards (35.8 Net Avg.). His best game came in his debut for the Cats where he punted 6 times, with 2 going for 50+ yards, and 3 landing inside the 20 yard line. I'm not sure what's going to happen come 2023, but I expect Hayes to return with more competition. The Ti-Cats solidified their kicker position for the foreseeable future, time to do that with the punter position next.

  8. Saskatchewan Roughriders - Kaare Vedvik did not do anything to impress me this year. He finished the year punting 107 times for an average of 44.5 yards per punt, and 36.2 Net yards per punt. His statistics were just below average this year and there's not a nice way to put that. While I love Vedvik (Go Ravens) I can't say he played well or advocate for him to be given the keys in 2023. With just 22 punts landing inside the 20 yard line (21%) and only 31 punts over 50 yards, he will just escape Ninth Place in our Power Rankings. It seemed Vedvik was unfortunately stuck in a cycle all season where he would play well for a game or three, and then have a bad game. His best week came in Week 14 when he punted 6 times for 304 yards (50.7 Avg.) and 251 Net yards (41.8 Net Avg.). Vedvik is under contract for the 2023 season and I expect he will be brought back for camp. He also managed a football anomly the likes of which I have never seen. The jury is still out if he is given the green light to punt for the green and white next year, especially with the singing of David Solie.

  9. Edmonton Elks - What a rough year for Elk's special teams. I blame the front office and here's why. To start the season, the Elks trotted out Sergio Castillo as they didn't sign a punter in time for Week 1. Castillo would go on to punt a total of 8 times over the course of the season for the Elks while also handling kicking duties. He averaged 38.5 yards and 33.3 Net yards per punt. In Week 2, after much tweeting by myself, the Elks signed punter Matt Mengel. This was a great signing and I'm sure that my input swayed the front office to get it done. Mengel has a huge leg and was given a chance. He would start/finish strong, punting 24 times for 47.2 yards but only averaging 36.6 Net yards per punt. His best game came in Week 4 when he punted 5 times for 266 yards (53.2 Avg.) and 241 Net yards (48.2 Net Avg.). He also had 3 punts over 50 yards and 20% of punts inside the 20 yard line. Now, for reasons I cannot fathom, Mengel was released in favour of the 40 year old veteran Jon Ryan after the Elks acquired him from the Ti-Cats for an 8th-round pick. Jon's time with Edmonton did not impress anyone and he himself acknowledged this fact when he retired at the end of the 2022 Season. Before retiring, Ryan punted the ball 62 times for 43.2 yards and 33.2 Net yards per punt, both of which are league-lows. He only pinned opponents inside their 20 yard line 15% of the time. I don't want to dog on the guy, he obviously is a prolific punter and likely a Hall of Famer but he didn't have it in him after coming off an ankle injury in 2021. He announced he will be signing a 1-day contract with Seattle to retire a Seahawk.

 

This will conclude our first-ever Between The Goalposts Kicker and Punter Awards! Thank you all for reading, even if it was just your team's breakdowns. I appreciate all the support and interest the CFL community has shown in my craft this year. Keep an eye out for future articles, including one on how I will be tracking statistics moving into the '23 football season.

 

Thank you for making it this far in my most ambitious article yet! Please make sure to let me know what you think.


-Big Ups to everyone on Twitter who continues to post great Specialist content-


I couldn't do it without you :)


Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page