The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have named backup quarterback Matthew Shiltz the starter for their regular-season finale against the Ottawa Redblacks.
Shiltz came off the bench last week after starter Dane Evans suffered a thumb injury late in the game, leading the drive that set up kicker Seth Small for the game-winning field goal against these same Redblacks. The victory helped the sub-.500 Ticats clinch the final playoff spot in the East Division, rendering their Week 21 rematch meaningless.
Evans has been a full participant in practice all week but will take over second-string duties for the finale with the intention of resting for the playoffs. However, given the season the two quarterbacks have had, a strong performance by Shiltz would provide an interesting conversation piece heading into the East Semi-Final.
Evans has had an inconsistent first campaign as the number one pivot in Hamilton, going 298-of-448 passing for 3,766 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. As a result, the Ticats have occasionally gone with a two-quarterback system featuring the 29-year-old Shiltz, who has completed 73-of-101 passes for 791 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 152 yards and a score on 28 carries.
By midseason, it seemed Shiltz was poised to overtake Evans as the starter, before a wrist injury derailed the backup’s ascent. A refocused Evans sparked the Ticats turnaround with a couple of high-profile performances but has since regressed back towards the mean, opening the door for Shiltz to stir controversy once again.
The Ticats (7-10) will travel to Ottawa (4-13) on Saturday, October 29 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.