Milton: Tasker’s return will give Ticats offensive continuity

If the season opened tomorrow, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats could field not only a starting offence, but their starting offence.

With Luke Tasker agreeing to a two-year deal over the weekend, the Ticats now have, under contract, the entire offensive line which anchored the playoff-bereft team to a 6-4 record from Labour Day on, plus the starting quarterback and running back, four starting receivers (three of whom surpassed the 1000-yard threshold), plus Terrence Toliver, a 1,000-yard plus guy in 2016 who was lost for the season in the first offensive possession last year.

“I haven’t seen that in my time here,” said centre Mike Filer, who joined the Ticats as a rookie in 2012. “We haven’t even had the same offensive line from one year to the next.

“We set a very high standard in the second half last year with the way we finished off, and the way our locker room was together. The big thing is we want to pick up where we left off.

“It’s awesome, fantastic, to have Luke back: obviously he’s a big part of our offence, our locker room, and our culture.”

All sentiments echoed by vice-president of football operations Kent Austin, who was Tasker’s head coach for three years at Cornell and four and a half seasons with the Ticats before replacing himself with June Jones late last August.

Tasker signed before CFL free agency opens Tuesday and acknowledged that, “You can’t ever tell what you’re worth unless you hit the market but I can say I’m very happy with the contract that we struck. It’s a pay raise from last year (when he was believed to make $150,000), I can promise you that. I wouldn’t call it a hometown discount: it’s a contract that we’re happy with.”

Last season, Tasker set a franchise record for receptions at 104, three more than Andy Fantuz had recorded the previous year. In the eight games after Jones installed Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback, Tasker tied for the league in targets and receptions.

Overall, he played all 18 games for the first time, set career highs in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns. Just over 62 per cent of his 1,167 receiving yards came from September onward. He has gone over 1,000 yards in two of the last three seasons and in the other one was headed for a 1,200-yard year before he missed the last six games with injury.

The native of Buffalo, where he lives with wife, Jenna, and their infant son, Steele, would have attracted warm attention on the free agent bloc and, at age 27, said his, and his agent’s, intent was to make the most of this contract.

“But our wish was to stay in Hamilton, always,” he said. “We came to an agreement with the team that we’re both happy with and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back.”

Like his close friend Filer, Tasker said that with the first five games against the powerful CFL West, it’s important that the historically slow-starting Ticats hit the ground running this season. Jones, who runs the offence, has already implied he will use the spring’s Optional Team Activities period as practice more than personnel-selecting: at least on offence. And he’s told his players that too.

“I think if we get a detailed approach I think we will find ourselves not battling in October and November to scrape up from the bottom of the league but we’re going to find ourselves sitting at the top and defending it,” Tasker said. “ If we can really get a fast start.”

Notes: Kent Austin on pending free agent Andy Fantuz: “The door’s not shut with Andy right now. We’re talking. But he’s like other free agents, we’re trying to piece the whole puzzle together.” . . .Austin said all questions about former Atlanta Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville joining Hamilton’s staff, as reported by 3DownNation on Friday would have to be directed to June Jones.

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
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Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (153 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

9 Comments on Milton: Tasker’s return will give Ticats offensive continuity

  1. Bruce Forsythe // February 12, 2018 at 10:02 pm //

    They put out my picture with silence ‘cause my identity by itself causes violence !!!

  2. I love Fantuz, but I think it’s time to move on and get him coaching.

  3. I’d say Tasker, Banks, Saunders, and Toliver is a pretty fine looking receiver set. Would like to see what more Aultman can do as well. Looking good!

  4. Moncton Ticats fan // February 13, 2018 at 7:52 am //

    Glad to see Tasker back. He is a key part of the Cats receiving corps. And for him it is sure an easier daily commute to Buffalo then from someplace out west. Not sure that Andy still has enough left in the tank to be an impact player, but he has always been a great possession guy, but so is Tasker.

  5. lookin good. Hope they can keep Fantuz as well and rotate him in. Still think he has something left in the tank.

  6. Alex Droho // February 13, 2018 at 8:00 am //

    I like Steve’s comment about continuity. In my mind continuity helps build stability and imparts confidence that management’s plan is solid and the direction the team is moving in is positive. Yikes! I might have to get my season’s tickets back if management keeps doing this.

  7. With Austin taking one role and only dealing with contracts I believe was the best move and with the lat half season success orchestrated by jj and jm I have this feeling the organization has turned the corner and are ready to go after a championship!

  8. Watch the Canadian sprinter. He will be good. Somebody with a big arm can throw to him and he will run under it.

    • Looking forward to seeing Haynes on the field either as a kick returner and/or receiver! Should be FUN!

      Having all the same key players back on offense is GREAT and hopefully the team can pick up where it left off and get off to a good start in spite of the challenging early season schedule.

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