There was a familiar face roaming the Caledonia Park sidelines during the Vancouver Island Raiders' 71-0 stomping of the Westshore Rebels on Saturday. B.C. Lions star tailback Andrew Harris was in town supporting the Nanaimo Redmen minor football association raise money at the Raiders game and keeping a close eye on his former junior team.
It was an easy respite from what has been a frustrating year in the CFL, with the Lions coming off a 31-17 loss at home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday to sit tied for third in the West Division at 9-5-0. Individually, it has also been a tough year stats-wise for the Canadian running back, sitting third in the league with 760 yards on the ground, but has just 414 yards receiving. Both totals are well off his pace from last year when he finished with 1,112 rushing yards and 718 receiving. "At this point, I'm just trying to get better and better," said Harris, 26, who had just nine yards on six carries against the 'Riders and two catches for six yards. "We're in a playoff position right now, and that's the biggest thing."
He doesn't often get back to Caledonia during the football season, but usually does make it out once or twice a year.
For him it's a chance to reconnect with his former coaches and owner Hadi Abassi, as all of the players are gone from when he last played for the Raiders.
"I always like coming back to Nanaimo, it's like my home stomping grounds where I grew up and blossomed," said Harris.
One player he will be playing with again in the future, however, is Raiders star receiver Whitman Tomusiak, who has spent the year practicing with the Lions.
It is a very familiar story for the Winnipeg native who spent a year or two traveling back and forth from Nanaimo to Vancouver on the ferry for practice.
"I see Whitman in the exact same situation I was in; he's coming over, he's the green horn, and guys poke fun at how he runs, but I was the same way," said Harris. "He's that awkward guy that's trying to figure it out, but he's going to figure it out.
"He's going to get an opportunity to play with us again next year and I hope he grows in the next few months and blossoms into that role."
However, he is giving Tomusiak his space and letting him find his own spot and voice on the club and in the dressing room.
"Whitman's doing a good job with that now, and as long as he keeps a level head and continues to grow as a human outside of football, he'll be alright," said Harris.
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