Pringle focuses on Grey Cup, not on records, awards

October 30, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore CFLs running back Mike Pringle has been dragging tacklers from one end of the field to the other for most of the season.

By the time it's over, he also may carry away the Canadian Football League's Outstanding Player of the Year award.

Is there a better candidate?

Calgary has quarterback Doug Flutie, a three-time winner who VTC again is shredding defenses with his passing and scrambling and is a shoo-in for the Western Division honor. But Pringle showed yesterday why he rates as more than just the favorite in the East.

That's too restricted for someone who came up huge again, this time in Baltimore's biggest game of the season, by rushing for 209 yards and setting two league records in a 57-10 rout of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers yesterday at Memorial Stadium.

He began the game with 2,107 yards from scrimmage, 100 shy of the single-season mark set by Winnipeg's Robert Mimbs in 1991.

By the second quarter, after a couple of electrifying runs that included a 23-yard sprint up the middle for a score, the record belonged to him. And he would increase the total to 2,339 before leaving late in the fourth quarter to a standing ovation.

By then, he also had accumulated 1,901 rushing yards for the season, breaking the record of 1,896 by Calgary's Willie Burden that stood for 19 years.

"It's nice to have the records out of the way, not that it was a great deal of pressure," he said. "I just treat each game one at a time."

He also mistreated anyone who stood in his way yesterday.

Pringle had 133 yards on the ground in the first half, as Baltimore made a mockery of what was supposed to be a close game by scoring the first 40 points. And he erased any thoughts the Blue Bombers had of a comeback by scoring untouched on a 7-yard sweep on the initial play of the fourth quarter for a 47-10 lead.

On Baltimore's next possession, Pringle ran 14 yards for one first down, then picked up another with a 9-yard reception. That set up Tracy Ham's 44-yard touchdown pass to Chris Armstrong.

All that remained for Pringle was eclipsing Burden, something he could have done next week at Sacramento but wanted to share with the home crowd.

Just as his linemen share in Pringle's glory.

"When you're an offensive lineman, establishing the run is a pride factor," said right guard John Earle. "And to have Mike rush for all those yards, that's our thing right there. I take a lot of pride in that. Any time I can get a back over 100 yards, I feel great. I can go home at night and sleep better."

Said right tackle Neal Fort: "This is an accomplishment for me. Even though he has the records and all the yards, this is the only pride I have in offensive-line play. I don't get a lot of stats or the limelight. To have a running back like Mike and a quarterback like Tracy [Ham], and the people surrounding them, it makes my job a whole lot more enjoyable."

Said Pringle: "Any success that I have, I owe to my offensive line. When the holes are that size, it makes it easy for a guy like me to run through them."

Pringle doesn't sound like a man consumed by the need to be chosen Outstanding Player.

"As long as it comes with winning, and whatever I do helps us get to the Grey Cup, I'll be more than happy," he said.

If the voting took place in the CFLs' locker room, Pringle would be a unanimous choice.

"He's it, without a doubt," Earle said. "Are you going to tell me a man who's going to rush for almost 2,000 yards isn't MVP? There's no need to elaborate on it."

"Find a better player and show me," said guard Guy Earle.

Is Pringle's next goal to go over 2,000 yards?

"The next goal," he said, "is beating the Sacramento Gold Miners."

PRINGLE'S RECORDS

Baltimore CFLs running back Mike Pringle broke the single-season league records for rushing yards and yards from scrimmage. Here are the league leaders in each category:

RUSHING

Player, team .. .. .. .. .. Yards .. .. Year

Pringle, Baltimore . .. .. 1,901 .. .. 1994

W. Burden, Calgary . .. .. 1,896 .. .. 1975

E. Lunsford, Calgary .. .. 1,794 .. .. 1961

R. Mimbs, Winnipeg . .. .. 1,769 .. .. 1991

YARDS FROM SCRIMMAGE

Player, team .. .. .. .. .. Yards .. .. Year

Pringle, Baltimore . .. .. 2,339 .. .. 1994

Mimbs, Winnipeg . .. .. .. 2,207 .. .. 1991

W. Reaves, Winnipeg ... .. 2,140 .. .. 1984

Burden, Calgary . .. .. .. 2,127 .. .. 1975

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