Ticats quarterback competition ‘not bigger than the game’: Dane Evans

Photo courtesy: Ticats.ca

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans views the competition for the starting job through his own unique perspective.

Evans and veteran Jeremiah Masoli are vying to be named the No. 1 QB for the Ticats when the 2021 CFL season kicks-off in August.

“I guess that’s the easiest way to put it, everyone just knows things as a competition these days, but really it’s not. I’m going to push him, he’s going to push me, if I go with the ones it’s that, if he goes with the ones, it’s that,” Evans said during a videoconference.

“We tell each other before every practice, and we’ve done this for years, we’re going to be each other’s biggest critic in the most loving way. I’m going to push him, I’m going to be his number one fan, and I know he’s going to push me, and I expect him to push me, so I know he expects me to push him.”

Evans and Masoli jogged out onto the Tim Hortons field turf for day one of training camp together. The pair of signal callers have truly developed a friendship alongside the desire to be the man running out with the starting offence when the Ticats visit Winnipeg for a 107th Grey Cup rematch on Thursday, August 5.

“From the outside in people are going to formulate their own opinion and say: ‘Ah, come on, you know that person ‘X’ is going to have the job, they’re just saying that.’ Well, that’s perfect stories are great. I’ll tell you, just talk to them, there is nothing better than the source,” head coach Orlondo Steinauer said in a videoconference.

“They’re not robots, we don’t tell them what to say. They’re their own individual people. I’ll tell you this: they both want to outdo each other every time they’re out there and it showed today, but they’re not afraid to hug and high-five afterwards. That’s just how they are as people, that’s not how they’re being coached to be, that’s who they are, that’s what makes them special.”

Masoli led the Ticats to a 5-1 record to start the 2019 season before suffering a torn ACL against the Blue Bombers in August. He completed 125-of-175 pass attempts for 1,576 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions in those games while rushing for 79 yards and four scores.

Evans took over as the starter the next eleven games, posting a 9-2 record as Hamilton lock-up the No. 1 spot in the East Division. He completed 298-of-413 pass attempts for 3,754 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. The 27-year-old helped the Ticats make it to the Grey Cup.

“Their physical skills — absolutely — they both can play. They both deserve to be starters. They are tremendous people, they’ll be the first to tell you that they’re trying to outdo the next person — they want the job. But they are going to respect whatever decision is made and support the other one, it is truly all about winning,” Steinauer said.

“We’re in the ultimate team game, that’s what it’s all about: we’re trying to win. This whole quarterback competition, we’re not bigger than the game, we’re just a position on the field,” Evans said. “Whenever it rolls around and we start playing, whoever is out there is going to be the best for the team and I trust everybody in this organization to make that decision.”

Steinauer admitted he’d want to have the same call to make every year they let him be in charge.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.