Dobko catches Dinos' record
St. Albert slotback breaks Don Blair's team record for career receptions
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
Chris Dobko is the best of the best to ever catch a football for the Calgary Dinos.
The fifth-year slotback shattered Don Blair’s all-time career receiving record of 138 during a virtuous nine-catch, 203-yard performance in Friday’s 48-24 win over the Manitoba Bisons at McMahon Stadium.
“It’s a pretty humbling thing to do because he is the best receiver to ever play for the Dinos. He played in the CFL and won a Vanier Cup and a Hec Creighton Trophy (in 1995). To do anything close to what he did is special,” Dobko said of the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 CFL draft.
The record breaker was a six-yard grab from quarterback Andrew Buckley midway through the opening quarter on a first-down play off a zone read.
“It was actually a really boring catch,” Dobko recalled with a chuckle.
The former St. Albert High Skyhawk didn’t have time to savour the moment.
“I threw the ball to the sidelines and (receiver Brett) Blaszko gave me a hug,” Dobko said. “I didn’t really know how to feel at the time to be honest with you. I knew I did it and it was cool but it happened too quickly.”
Going into the Canada West game the Paul Kane High School graduate was one catch away from tying Blair's mark after hauling in 15 passes for 165 yards in three wins to start the season.
“It was in the back of my mind and I was pretty excited for it in general. I’ve had pretty good success against Manitoba. It’s usually a good day,” said Dobko, who tied Blair for second place for receptions in a season on the Dinos with a conference-leading 56 in 2011. The team record of 59 was set by Josh Borger in 1983.
Last year against Manitoba, Dobko twice broke the Dinos’ single-game reception’s record with 13 in week three in Winnipeg and 14 in week eight in Calgary before roommate Jake Harty set the new record with 15 against the Regina Rams in the Hardy Cup for a new Canada West playoff mark.
With 146 catches and counting, Dobko described his accomplishment as “pretty crazy.”
“I’ve been a part of a lot of good teams and I’ve played with lot of great players. There has been a lot of great receivers I’ve been able to learn off of over my five years, like (Nate) Coehoorn and (Anthony) Parker. Both are playing in the CFL right now and doing very well at it. I’ve played with some great quarterbacks as well and I’ve had some great coaches and some good offences that I’ve been in,” said the two-time Canada West all-star and 2012 CIS second team All-Canadian.
Head coach Blake Nill was impressed to see Dobko pass Blair in the record book.
“It’s pretty amazing that Chris is the all-time leading receiver," Nill told reporters after Friday’s game. “I’ve probably given Chris as hard a time as any player I’ve had, but over the last year and a half he has matured tremendously and I couldn't be happier for him.”
The six-foot, 205-pound Dobko is a noted route runner who Nill described as “Mr. Consistency” for the Dinos.
“I found out very early on watching Anthony Parker, the most athletic kid I’ve ever played with in my life, that wasn’t the type of player I was going to be. I couldn't be somebody I wasn't so I just learned how to run the routes, learned how to get myself open without having the pure speed that somebody like Parker would have,” said the 2007 Haliburton Trophy winner as the pool B MVP in the metro Edmonton league.
Dobko, 23, is the only fifth-year Dino on the team to play all five years. Ironically, he almost hooked up with the Alberta Golden Bears after his only season of junior with the Edmonton Wildcats before joining a winning tradition at the University of Calgary.
“It just means I’m old,” Dobko joked of his elder statesman status. “It’s such a young team and I’ve got to help teach them to go in the right direction and how to be a CIS player.”
The Dinos were ranked fifth in the country before improving to 4-0 against No. 8-ranked Manitoba at 2-2. Last year the Dinos won their fifth Hardy Cup and in the Mitchell Bowl got pounded 45-6 by the No. 1-ranked McMaster Marauders with a trip to the Vanier Cup on the line.
“This team has something about it that I haven't felt for the last little while. It refuses to lose games. It’s almost like our team is too young to even really know what is going on. They just don't know how to lose right now. They keep battling and they don't get nervous,” said Dobko, the only St. Albert player to appear in two Vanier Cups in 2009 and 2010.
Last year in six conference games Dobko led the Dinos with 50 catches and 659 yards and scored a team-high five touchdowns. He attended the CFL draft combine in Toronto in May as one of the top 51 prospects but wasn’t selected in the draft.
“It was a little bit of a disappointment but everything happens for a reason. It will all work out hopefully. I feel somebody will give me a chance.”
The Montreal Alouettes offered Dobko a tryout at the team’s rookie camp, but he elected to prepare for his final CIS season with the Dinos.
“I told them I was going finish here before I made that decision. I wasn’t drafted so there wasn’t a lot of stock in me so I didn't want to risk anything for the Dinos. I wanted to finish up here and then worry about that next year,” said Dobko, who has amassed career totals of 1,949 yards and 13 TDs for fifth all-time on the Dinos in both categories.