It didn’t take Luke Tasker long to get comfortable on the bigger football field north of the boarder.
In just his third Canadian Football League game, Tasker went over the 100-yard receiving mark for the first time in his short career. Number 17 for Hamilton has been able to quickly digest Kent Austin’s complex offence because of the time he spent under Austin at Cornell University.
“We had him for three years at Cornell, so he knows our offence,” Austin said. “We move him around a lot, a roll that is pretty unusual for a guy that hasn’t played this game very much up here.”
“He’s just a special kid.”
“A lot of the offence has the same terminology, but obviously so much changes with the 12th man and the waggle motion. One thing that helped me was that it was a lot of the same terminology and the stuff came back to me pretty fast,” Tasker said.
|Tasker by the numbers|
First Three Games in CFL:
» 13 Receptions
» 202 Receiving Yards
» 1 Touchdown
Four Seasons at Cornell University
» 172 Receptions
» 2,487 Receiving Yards
» 13 Touchdown
During Tasker’s four years with the Big Red, he made 172 receptions for 2,487 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. Tasker’s best season at Cornell came in 2012, his senior year, when he recorded 75 catches for 1,207 and eight touchdowns, with Austin on the sideline.
Tasker has made Austin look smart for signing him just a short time ago, on September 17. And he’s quickly earned the trust of veteran quarterback Henry Burris.
“It’s all about trust and talking things over. Communication is key when you’re playing in this game,” Burris explained. “Regardless if a guy has been around for a couple days or he’s been there for years, there is always constant communication going on.”
Hank compared Tasker to one of the most dependable and elite receivers in the CFL.
“Luke reminds me a lot of Weston Dressler in many different ways. He’s very shifty and the kid knows how to get open.”
In Tasker’s first three CFL games he has recorded 13 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown. Dressler had seven catches for 128 yards and a score over his first three CFL outings. Not to say Tasker will be the next Dressler, but he is sure off to an impressive start.
Tasker’s emergence was timely for the Ticats after rookie pass catcher Greg Ellingson suffered a lower body injury against the Alouettes in Week 13. He made his CFL debut in Week 14 and stepped right in to fill the hole created when Ellingson went down.
“A lot of my success has been helped by the leadership like Hank, Andy Fantuz, Dave Stala and Greg Ellingson,” Tasker explained. “I come off the field and those guys are telling me what I should do differently. Those guys are giving me what I need to be better.”
And if Tasker ever wants more advice he could just call up his dad, Steve, who played 13 seasons in the NFL as a receiver and special teams ace.
“My dad sees every game whether it is on the internet or television. I talk with him every week, usually more than once. This is exciting to him too,” Tasker said. “For the most part it’s like any dad to a son, he just wants to see me succeed.”
Tasker’s dad was in attendance for his son’s CFL debut against Calgary on September 28 and Steve witnessed the first 100-yard receiving game of Tasker’s pro career in the Tiger-Cats 24-18 win over the Argonauts on October 14.
It appears the football apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree in the Tasker family.
Ticats Hunting A Home Playoff Date
Hamilton’s back-to-back or home-and-home, whichever you prefer, sweep of East-leading Toronto has the Ticats in the driver’s seat to host the Eastern Semi Final. It also has the Black and Gold just one game or two points out of the top spot in the East.
“If we go out there and play our game we feel we can beat anybody,” Burris said. “Right now we’re going after that home playoff game. We’re going to make sure we get a home playoff game, at least.”
The Ticats have three games remaining, all against Eastern foes. A two-game set with Montreal before closing out the season on the road in Winnipeg. A win on Sunday against the Alouettes would clinch second place in the East for Hamilton.
“This is pretty much the playoffs right now,” Burris said.
“Everybody is vying for playoff position right now. Montreal played us tough last time and they could’ve beaten us. We have to be ready to go when we head into Montreal.”
“With a win we can pull away from Montreal and continue to put pressure on Toronto.”
If the Ticats want to turn their dream of an East Division regular season title into a reality, they must continue to string games together.
“We’re becoming a team that regardless of who is out there we’re able to get the job done when the pressure is on,” Burris said. “We’re going to need to be that way, especially moving forward and going into the playoffs.”
“I told the team, great teams string football games together,” Austin said. “They don’t have one good game and they’re off a week, then another week. Good football teams should be able to play consistently competitive football. All we’re focused on right now is stringing the next one together.”