Redblacks hoping quarterback Jeremiah Masoli can pull off his own Miracle on Bank Street

Photo courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks (@REDBLACKS)

The Ottawa Redblacks are looking for Jeremiah Masoli to pull off his own Miracle on Bank Street in the nation’s capital.

Masoli started at quarterback for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2015 East Final and connected with Luke Tasker for the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Three plays later on second-and-25, Henry Burris let it go downfield while Greg Ellingson made a leaping grab on the other end and took the football 93 yards for the winning TD.

That play instantly sent the franchise from cute and new to contender and led to a Grey Cup win in 2016. The Redblacks are banking on Masoli being able to accomplish a somewhat similar feat after Ottawa posted league-worst records in two straight seasons, 3-11 in 2021 and 3-15 in 2019.

“It’s not going to be all on me, it’s going to be all of us, a group effort — I want to collaborate with everybody,” Masoli said.

“I’ve seen what it takes to get there, I’ve witnessed other teams win and it’s the best team that wins in the end, the guys that really come together and have those relationships. I’m looking forward to building that team camaraderie and chemistry.”

General manager Shawn Burke believes Masoli’s credibility across the league as a football player with his colleagues is second to none. That was one of the main reasons why Burke was comfortable offering a $200,000 signing bonus, the largest in the CFL since Michael Reilly and Bo Levi Mitchell received $400,000 and $300,000 respectively in 2019, to get his signature on a two-year contact.

“To have a guy that you’ve seen day in and day out for the better part of eight years of what he brings to the locker room, what the sport means to him, what family means to him and what teammates mean to him meant a lot in making this decision,” Burke said.

“There’s an ability to know what he’s going to bring and it’s not just about his talents on the football field, it’s about his work ethic, his quiet leadership, passion and drive for the game. There’s a laidbackness to him but there’s a fire to him, it’s a great balance between the two.”

Masoli was the only quarterback Burke and head coach Paul LaPolice pursued through the negotiating window and free agent process. LaPolice studied hours of game film and especially focused on the 2018 season, which was the best statistical campaign of his career to date. Burke had a behind the scenes view of Masoli that year and for eight total in the Hammer.

“To go ahead and align myself with somebody that I know already know and trust like Shawn Burke, and then somebody like coach LaPolice, made it very easy,” Masoli said.

“I talked to him a couple times over the phone, I was super comfortable being able to talk with him and I already knew Burkie from Hamilton — everything fell into place.”

The 33-year-old Masoli has played 114 CFL games in his career, completing 67 percent of his passes for 15,555 yards with 80 touchdowns against 51 interceptions and rushed 252 times for 1,507 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and 19 majors. He has started 51 regular season games while producing a 27-24 win-loss record with a 4-2 playoff mark and is chasing an elusive CFL championship ring.

“You can definitely feel it around here, there is a buzz happening for sure — we’ve got a lot of momentum,” Masoli said. “I’m here to win and I want to win with these guys.”