Charleston Hughes has showed everyone the Calgary Stampeders made a mistake in the off-season.
The Stampeders traded the 11-year defensive lineman to Hamilton ending a decade-long run in red-and-white. His tenure in Hamilton may not have lasted 11 minutes as he was picked up by the Riders in a trade that was perhaps their best move of the off-season.
Going into Sunday’s Labour Day Classic against Winnipeg, Hughes has been the most dominant defensive player in the CFL registering a league-high 12 sacks which is made more impressive when you consider the next best player in that category has 5.
As the Riders got onto the Mosaic Stadium turf to start getting ready for the Bombers, the CFL named the 34-year-old as one of its top performers for August.
Hughes says the reason for his success has been simple.
“Hard work, determination and blood, sweat and tears”. Hughes said with a large grin.
Hughes says his play is driven by proving something, but not to his former team for letting him go, but to his current team by playing to the best of his ability.
“I set my own goals and standards for myself, and with a new team you have to find a way to show your teammates what you’re made of.” Hughes said.
Head Coach Chris Jones knew what he was getting when he acquired the defensive lineman, but even Jones admits the play of Hughes in the first half of this season has been pleasantly surprising.
“He has surprised me a little bit, but Charleston is a great player.” Jones said. ” He’s playing moreso off what’s between his ears than his legs. He knows if he plays long enough and hard enough that quarterbacks will hang onto the ball and he can make plays.”
Hughes admits he has had the best first half of a season that he has ever had and he shows no signs of slowing down as he tries to chase down the team record for most sacks in a season which is 22 by Bobby Jurasin in 1987.
The Riders and Bombers meet at a sold-out Mosaic Stadium Sunday at 1 on 620 CKRM. Our pre-game show starts at 10.