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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Kicker, Punter & Snapper News

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October 10, 2015 - Sergio Castillo kicks game winner over BC Lions
"Sergio Castillo kicked a 40-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a 29-26 victory over the B.C. Lions in Vancouver. Castillo, playing his first game for the Bombers as a kicking replacement for Lirim Hajrullahu (who is still punting for the Bombers), kicked five field goals, including the winner, to make sure the Bombers put a halt to a three-game losing streak." - MyToba

October 8, 2015 - Sergio Castillo takes over at kicker
"After getting much of the blame for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers loss to the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday, Lirim Hajrullahu is being replaced as the club’s field goal kicker. Hajrullahu, 25, missed four field goal attempts and a convert against the Eskimos. He’ll still dress against the B.C. Lions on Saturday as the teams punter, but newcomer Sergio Castillo will kick the field goals. 'Just getting comfortable with, you know, the snap and hold, you know with the first team,' Castillo said. 'I think that’s just the main thing, to just get into a rhythm. And accuracy, you know, it’s been pretty good. So it’s just getting comfortable. That’s the main, main thing.' Castillo, 24, had tryouts in the NFL with New Orleans, Miami and Atlanta and was even working as a high school teacher in San Antonio, Texas. He was signed to the Bombers practice roster in August and will now get a chance to kick in his first CFL game." - Global News

August 28, 2015 - kicker Sergio Castillo signed to practice squad
"Castillo (5-foot-11, 195 lbs., West Texas A&M, born Nov. 1, 1990) played four seasons with the Buffaloes where he connected on 78% of his field goal attempts. As a senior in 2013, he went 24-30 on field goals. That year, he was the winner of the Fred Mitchell Award, given to the nation’s top kicker. His 38 field goals in 2012 marked a school record for field goals made in one season. His 62 career field goals are both a school and Lone Star Conference record." - MyToba

July 10, 2015 - kicker Lirim Hajrullahu hits four field goals in win over Montreal
"Lirim Hajrullahu booted four field goals and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers scored touchdowns off an interception and a blocked punt in a 25-23 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Friday. Winnipeg (2-1) held a 22-13 lead going into the fourth quarter, but Montreal running back Tyrell Sutton ran in his second touchdown of the game 55 seconds in to start closing the gap. Hajrullahu booted his fourth field goal to make it 25-20, but Als rookie quarterback Rakeem Cato guided the Alouettes on a six-play, 55-yard drive that ended with Boris Bede's 38-yard field goal.... Hajrullahu connected on field goals from 21, 25, 33 and a career-best 52 yards. He missed one point after (for the third time this season) and was good on another." -  The Record

June 21, 2015 - kicker Anthony Santella released

May 30, 2015 - long snapper Chad Rempel signed
"Rempel, six-foot-three 225 pounds, has played 125 career CFL games — nine of which came with the Blue Bombers in his rookie season of 2005. The Sherwood Park, Alta. native moved on to play seven seasons for Toronto and one for Hamilton, before spending the 2013 season with the Chicago Bears. He returned to the CFL for the last half of the 2014 season with Saskatchewan." - Winnipeg Free Press

February 5, 2015 - punter Mike Renaud retires
"Mike Renaud is retiring after six seasons in the Canadian Football League, all with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Renaud played in 86 games over those six seasons and finishes his career fourth all-time in Bombers' punting yardage with 28,490 yards. 'I really, honestly, cherished my time as a Bomber, and love the organization. It’s a place I wanted my career to end when that time did come. It’s time to move on, and enjoy life after football.' Renaud was originally acquired in a trade with Calgary in June of 2009." - CBC

January 22, 2015 - long snapper Ian Wild released
The Bombers released linebacker and long snapper Ian Wild from his contract on Thursday, less than three weeks before he was scheduled to become a free agent. The Bombers let him go early so he can sign an NFL contract, and sources say that squad is his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers. 'Ian Wild is a great football player in every facet of what you look for, and we are not at all surprised he has garnered interest from the National Football League,' Bombers general manager Kyle Walters said in a press release. Wild appeared in 29 games during two seasons with the Blue and Gold, registering 142 tackles, 29 special teams tackles and four sacks. He also served as the team's long snapper, and the Bombers struggled mightily at the position when he was out of the lineup due to injury." - Sault Star

January 7, 2015 - long snapper Tim Cronk signed
"The Winnipeg Blue Bombers today are pleased to announce the club has signed National fullback and long snapper, Tim Cronk. A four year CFL veteran, Cronk was last with the Riders in 2014. Prior to that, he spent three seasons with the B.C. Lions. Throughout his CFL career, Cronk has played in 51 games. After going undrafted out of Bishop's, he signed with the Lions in May of 2011. He tallied 20 special teams tackles, two fumble recoveries and one fumble return for a touchdown during that time." - Our Sports Central 

November 5, 2014 - kicker/punter Lirim Hajrullahu wins three awards
"The fact Lirim Hajrullahu won three of his team's six individual awards on Wednesday signifies just how bad it was in Winnipeg in 2014. It should not, however, take away from how good a year Hajrullahu had as the team's placekicker and punter. The 24-year-old from St. Catharines, Ont., is the kicker the Bombers have been needing for years. The ideal situation for any CFL team is to have one Canadian do all the kicking, and Hajrullahu proved this year he can do it.... As a result, Hajrullahu on Wednesday was named the team's most outstanding rookie, special teams player and Canadian in voting conducted by the local chapter of the Football Reporters of Canada and Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea. Hajrullahu was the unanimous choice for the special teams and rookie awards. 'It's a very humbling experience for all the hard work that I've put in to get me to the point where I am today,' Hajrullahu said Wednesday." - Winnipeg Sun

November 4, 2014 - kicker/punter Lirim Hajrullahu
"Following in the footsteps of Trevor Kennerd, Troy Westwood, Justin Palardy and Alexis Serna, rookie Lirim Hajrullahu setting a new club record for kicking accuracy in a season, making 40 of his 46 field goal attempts for an 87 percent success rate. It just barely overtakes the old mark of 86.7 per cent set by Palardy who did it twice in 2010 and 2012.... Hajrullahu began the season as the team’s place kicker getting used for kickoffs and field goals but after Mike Renaud was sidelined by injury, Hajrullahu also assumed the punting duties. It’s a job he won’t relinquish without a fight, 'I’m coming back to camp and compete for all three,' said Hajrullahu. 'That’s my goal. I’m not gonna hide that.' Hajrullahu had a 43.8 yard punting average on 109 punts in his rookie season. It puts him near the bottom of the league but he was still better than Renaud’s 42.7 yard average before the injury." - Global News

October 18, 2014 - kicker Lirim Hajrullahu on record pace
"Bombers kicker Lirim Hajrullahu is on pace to set a couple of field-goal accuracy records. Hajrullahu currently leads the CFL in field-goal percentage at 91.2 (31-34) and appears likely to smash the franchise field goal record set by Justin Palardy at 86.7 per cent. CFL statistician Steve Daniel says Hajrullahu is also on pace to set the CFL rookie field goal accuracy record of 86.96 per cent set by first-year Ticats kicker Justin Medlock in 2009 when he went 40-of-46. Daniel says Hajrullahu can afford to miss two more field-goal attempts in Winnipeg’s final three games — provided he attempts at least five in that period — and still break Medlock’s rookie record." - Winnipeg Free Press

July 29, 2014 - kicker/punter Lirim Hajrullahu gets weekly CFL honor
"Hajrullahu was named the Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 5. Hajrullahu went a perfect 5-for-5 on field goals and scored 17 points in the Blue Bombers’ 23-6 road win over the BC Lions. Hajrullahu also took part in punting duties, kicking five punts averaging 43 yards with his longest going 50 yards. He also added a single in the third quarter. The 5’11” St. Catharines, Ontario native and a former standout at Western University made successful field goals from 51, 49, 33, 27 and 19 yards away to improve his rate to 13-for-14 (92.9%) on the season. Hajrullahu ranks second in the league in kicking points with 51. This is Hajrullahu’s first season in the CFL and his first Player of the Week award." - CFL

July 20, 2014 - Lirim Hajrullahu gets triple duty
"Lirim Hajrullahu will continue to be a triple threat for the foreseeable future. Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea told reporters on Sunday that Mike Renaud — who injured his hamstring during the warm-up prior to Thursday’s 26-3 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos — would be out for “several weeks” and that the team wasn’t planning on bringing anybody in to replace him. That means Hajrullahu will be the punter on Friday against the B.C. Lions, while also handling field goal and kickoff duties. 'I’m going to stick with Lirim,' said O’Shea. 'You’ve got to remember that he’s a rookie. His tunnel vision is very good for a young guy. He’s very focused on what he does. He’s kind of oblivious to a lot of the other stuff going on around him and it’s important for a kicker to be like that. When he found out he was going to punt (on Thursday), he was like ‘okay, let’s punt.’ And away he went'.” - Winnipeg Sun

June 17, 2014 - kicker Lirim Hajrullahu
Things are looking up for Lirim Hajrullahu....Life is pretty good for the 24-year-old, but he’s not celebrating just yet. 'I’m happy to be here, because I really wanted to play here,' Hajrullahu said. 'This was my goal, to be playing here. I’m happy, but we’re still in training camp, so I’m still competing. I’m not trying to slow down at all. So I’m just going to keep going.' Hajrullahu used the disappointment he experienced in 2013 to propel himself into 2014. Not getting drafted made him work even harder at his craft. 'The first couple weeks it was very tough,' he said. 'Obviously you think you belong in the league and see other guys you believe you’re better than, but I just used it as motivation last year and trained my butt off. Just became way more healthier and stronger, and then just came back and then had a great fifth year and made a lot of noise there." - Winnipeg Sun

Also: The team released National long snapper Sean Blake.

June 16, 2014 - kicker Brett Maher waived
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have sorted out their kicking game and Brett Maher is the odd-man out. Maher, who couldn’t overcome his American passport, was among the five players released by the Blue Bombers on Sunday as the team got down to 65 players. Head coach Mike O’Shea made it clear that Maher, a star at Nebraska of the NCAA, would have to win the punting, kicking and kickoff jobs outright in order to nail down a spot on the roster. As it turns out, that didn’t occur, despite a solid showing from Maher, though O’Shea gave him an endorsement on the way to the unemployment line.... That leaves veteran Mike Renaud as the punter and rookie Lirim Hajrullahu to handle field goals and kickoffs. O’Shea was asked if Hajrullahu might be able to handle all three jobs somewhere down the road. 'He certainly fared well but right now, that’s not the case,' said O’Shea. 'Right now we’re having both players do three jobs. (Hajrullahu) has not surprised himself with his punting. He believes he’s a three-way guy. Right now, I think it’s best for him to work on those mechanics with field goal kicking and kickoffs'.” - Winnipeg Sun

June 12, 2014 - the kicker/punter job
"The starter: Brett Maher: Went 2-for-2 kicking field goals with a long of 47 in the pre-season game against the Argos. Also had a 44-yard average over seven punts. Maher is an American, and the only way he stays is if he can win both jobs, and right now, things are headed in that direction.
The surprise: Lirim Hajrullahu: Lots to like about this Canadian rookie and he can do both jobs. Incumbent punter Mike Renaud has a back injury and it might cost him his spot. Money and a Canadian passport might tempt the Bombers to go with Hajrullahu to handle all the kicking duties. Keep an eye on this fight." - Winnipeg Free Press

May 29, 2014 - kicker Lirim Hajrullahu camps
"He’s the only Canadian placekicker in camp, and that right there gives rookie hoofer Lirim Hajrullahu a head start in the competition for Winnipeg’s starting job this season. The former Western Mustang is competing with American Brett Maher for the team’s placekicking job, and veteran punter Mike Renaud is the only other specialist currently on the roster. Who ultimately gets each job could depend on the ratio, and teams are reluctant to use an American in the position unless he can do all three jobs. That makes the competition a little tighter, because Maher does all three jobs — field goals, kickoffs and punts — while Hajrullahu is primarily a placekicker. Renaud, meanwhile, is strictly a punter.... Hajrullahu has been lifting some nice punts into the air during the first two days of rookie camp, and he plans to pick Renaud’s brain when the veteran reports for camp on Saturday. After all, the more you can do … 'I’m still learning with punting,' he said. 'Hopefully with Renaud here he can help me and give me some tips. I have a good base, and if he gets hurt or I need to go in there I’ll do my best and try to put up the numbers he can'.” - Winnipeg Sun

May 6, 2014 - punter Mike Renaud gets Barwell Award
"Winnipeg Blue Bombers punter Mike Renaud has been recognized with the Athletes in Action Gord Barwell Award. The award is presented each year to a CFL player who exhibits exemplary Christian conduct and leadership both on and off of the field. The award is named after legendary receiver, the late Gord Barwell of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who helped establish the ministry of Athletes in Action throughout the CFL." - ChrisD.ca

April 30, 2014 - kicker Brett Maher signed
"Former University of Nebraska Cornhuskers kicker Brett Maher says he has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Maher tweeted from his personal account Wednesday night that he is 'excited for my opportunity with the @Wpg_BlueBombers this fall!' Maher also retweeted his agent, Robert Roche, who congratulated his client for "signing with the Wpg_BlueBombers." Maher handled place-kicking, punting and kickoff duties for the Cornhuskers and worked out for the Bombers during the team's recent mini-camp in Sarasota, Florida.... Maher is a Nebraska native and an import. His American passport will work against him competing at training camp next month for a job that CFL teams prefer to hand off to Canadians, but the fact he has experience at all three kicking tasks will work in his favour. Maher joins veteran punter Mike Renaud and rookie kicker Lirim Hajrullahu on the Bombers roster. Renaud and Hajrullahu are both non-imports." - Winnipeg Free Press

April 15, 2014 - kicker Brett Maher auditioned
"The Bombers also auditioned three kickers on Tuesday, putting them through punting, place-kicking and kickoff drills. The club was particularly keen this week to see Brett Maher, who performed all three tasks in a standout career at the University of Nebraska and will almost certainly be invited to the Bombers main training camp in June if he doesn’t get an NFL offer in the meantime. Maher said he is still entertaining NFL interest from the Kansas City Chiefs, but is also keenly interested in the Bombers after getting a glimpse of the organization. 'I’ve definitely been very pleased with this organization and with the coaches and scouts and stuff that I’ve been in contact with'." - Winnipeg Free Press

February 10, 2014 - long snapper Chris Cvetkovic retires
"The longest serving member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced his retirement this morning. Long snapper Chris Cvetkovic, who joined the Bombers in October 2003, made the announcement via his Twitter account. 'As of today I am no longer a @Wpg_BlueBombers but am now @Bomber Alumni,' Cvetkovic wrote. 'THANK U to all the Fans, Teammates, and staff!' Cvetkovic, 36, was scheduled to become a free agent tomorrow, but it was unlikely the Bombers were going to offer him a contract as he had been replaced as Winnipeg’s long snapper halfway through last season. Cvetkovic was arguably the most reliable long snapper during his decade in the CFL and had 63 special teams tackles over nine seasons with the Bombers. He missed the 2010 season after suffering a knee injury in the pre-season. The Hamilton, Ont., native was also one of the most community-minded players during his tenure with the Blue and Gold. His most notable work was the creation of Cvet’s Pets, a no-kill animal rescue program." - Winnipeg Sun

January 17, 2014 - kicker Lirim Hajrullahu signed
"Western Mustangs’ kicker Hajrullahu, from St. Catherines, Ont., finished his Mustangs career this season by surpassing Ottawa’s Neil Lumsden as the CIS’ all-time leading scorer with 422 points over his five seasons. He also set an OUA record with 77 career field goals, and tied the OUA single-season record with 22 field goals in 2013. For his efforts, Hajrullahu earned two spots on the OUA first team all-stars, getting the nod at both punter and kicker. He was also named a CIS second team all-Canadian as a kicker." - Metro News

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