The Hometown Talent on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers

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OTTAWA, ON - AUGUST 04: Andrew Harris (33) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before the game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Canadian Football League (CFL) action at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, Canada on August 04, 2017. (Photo by Sean Burges/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The casual CFL fan can likely identify one of the four Winnipeggers on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers roster. Andrew Harris, the team’s star running back, is one of the faces of the league and is playing for his hometown team. The Bombers employ three other hometown boys who unlike Harris are not quite considered household names.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Harris, along with running back Kienan LaFrance, receiver Nic Demski, and linebacker Thomas Miles take the Winnipeg in Blue Bombers to a new level. All four Bombers were born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and currently play for the blue and gold.

Harris was raised in Steinbach, Manitoba, a small city approximately 45 minutes away from Winnipeg. Although Harris grew up outside of Winnipeg, he later moved back to the city to play in the WHSFL (Winnipeg High School Football League). LaFrance, Demski, and Miles also played in the WHSFL, and at times against each other. Harris’ WHSFL career began at Grant Park High School before transferring to Oak Park High School to play his senior year for the man who initially recruited Harris – Stu Nixon.

LaFrance suited up at Sturgeon Heights High School, Demski at Oak Park High School, and Miles at Churchill High School (located in Winnipeg). After their dominant high school careers, the three hometown players signed on to play with the University of Manitoba Bisons. On the other hand, Harris’ path to the CFL was much different.

Harris’ Unique Route

Harris never played CIS Football and instead played for the Vancouver Island Raiders of the CJFL. During his five-year tenure in the CJFL, Harris won three championships and broke numerous team and league records.

Harris had an opportunity to play in the CIS for the St. Mary’s Huskies but backed out at the last second, something he illustrates in a detailed autobiography on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers website.

“The night before I was ready to commit to the team, my girlfriend at the time called me and said, ‘We need to talk.’ I told her I was just about to commit to the team, and she told me she was pregnant. The next day, I told Coach Sumarah that I would have loved to go there but, financially and with everything I had going on in my life, it probably wouldn’t be the best decision. He tried to say that lots of guys had kids and made it work, but for me to move my girlfriend and have a newborn in a new city while trying to go through school… I just didn’t think that would be in our best interests. And so I declined and opted to go back and work in Nanaimo full time while playing football.” – Andrew Harris, “The Road Back Home.”

From there, Harris was a territorial exemption pick of the BC Lions. Harris cracked the Lions’ roster in 2010, going on to win a Grey Cup against the Bombers in 2011. After the 2015 season, Harris made playing for his hometown team a reality when he signed with the Blue Bombers as a free agent.

Kyle Walters Signing Hometown Players

Winnipeg Blue Bombers General Manager Kyle Walters has signed all four of the current hometown players via free agency.

Thomas Miles joined the club prior to the 2017 season after spending three seasons with the Toronto Argonauts.

Kienan LaFrance spent two seasons with the Ottawa RedBlacks where he served mostly as a backup. In the 2016 playoffs, LaFrance rushed for 157 yards on 25 carries in the East Final. LaFrance’s performance skyrocketed his worth in free agency the upcoming off-season. In 2017 LaFrance signed in Saskatchewan for approximately $110,000 but was released after an injury-riddled season.

Nic Demski was drafted by the Roughriders in 2015. The Winnipeg native showed promise throughout his three-year tenure but failed to stay consistently healthy.

This past off-season, Walters inked both LaFrance and Demski who converted to the other prairie province to suit up in their hometown blue and gold.

The Winnipeggers’ Current Roles

Today, Andrew Harris is one of the best players in the CFL and is considered by many as the best running back/two-way player in the league. Kienan LaFrance serves as Harris’ backup, providing all-important National depth at the running back position.

Nic Demski’s addition may be the piece that puts the Bombers’ offence over the top. The Bombers desperately needed more depth at receiver, and the speedy Demski is just that.

Thomas Miles is the unsung hero of the four. Miles has dressed in all 21 games since joining the team but has made 0 starts. Where Miles makes his impact is the special teams. The linebacker recorded a career-best 14 special teams tackles in 2017 and already has three in the two Winnipeg games in 2018.

The Last Word

Last Friday, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Montreal Alouettes by a score of 56-10. In that commanding victory, Harris, Demski, and LaFrance all found the end zone.

Miles contributed in the win against Montreal too gathering two tackles on the teams’. The Blue Bombers now travel to Hamilton where you can watch the four Winnipeggers do battle against the red-hot Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night at 6:00pm local time.

Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Images

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