Ticats to go with veteran Masoli as their starter; competed after being pressed on it

HAMILTON — Jeremiah Masoli has won the quarterback competition with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer told reporters Sunday that Masoli will be the club's starter when it kicks off the 2021 CFL season Thursday night in Winnipeg against the Grey Cup-champion Blue Bombers.

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Masoli and Dane Evans competed for the starting job during training camp after both were pressed into action during the 2019 season.

"Jeremiah Masoli will run out and start for Hamilton (on) Week 1," Steinauer said. "He had a little nudge because Dane pushed him pretty damn good.

"At the end of the day a decision had to be made, we all knew that. We're comfortable decision right now."

Masoli staked Hamilton to a 5-1 record to open the campaign before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. Evans stepped in and won nine of his 11 regular-season starts and led the Ticats to the Grey Cup before they suffered a 33-12 loss to Winnipeg.

The five-foot-10, 228-pound Masoli had the edge in experience as he's entering his eighth CFL season, all with Hamilton. This marks Evans' third year with the Ticats.

Masoli had been the starter since midway through the 2016 campaign and had completed 125-of-175 passes (71.4 per cent) for 1,576 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding 79 rushing yards on 14 carries (4.5-yard average) with four touchdowns before being injured.

Hamilton's offence didn't skip a beat under Evans, who before last season had just one CFL start under his belt. The six-foot-one, 218-pound Evans completed 298-of-413 passes (72.1 per cent) for 3,754 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while rushing for 161 yards on 34 carries (4.7-yard average) with three touchdowns in 2019.

Ticats receiver Brandon Banks, the CFL's outstanding player in 2019 after registering 112 catches for 1,550 yards with 13 touchdowns, is glad to see Masoli back healthy and on the field.

"I'm happy for Jeremiah, obviously, because the last time we saw him he went out with a tough injury," said Banks, a close friend of Masoli's. "I'm just happy he was able to get himself back to the type of quarterback he is and happy to see him out there.

"Obviously, he and I had great chemistry before the injury . . . I'm just excited for him to have the opportunity to go back out there and lead us (for) another season."

Hamilton won a club-record 15 regular-season games in 2019. The CFL didn't stage a 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 1, 2021.

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