July 16, 2014

Dunk: Fantuz returns, Masoli takes over in Hamilton


Head injuries are a delicate matter and Andy Fantuz knows from experience.

Hamilton’s star Canadian receiver suffered a concussion when Argos linebacker Nick Williams hit Fantuz in the Ticats final pre-season game. It’s been a carefully monitored process for Fantuz to get back on the field.

“You’re supposed to refrain from any activity and anything that’s going bother you. Everybody is different and every concussion is different. Some people are sensitive to light, some to sound, some to commotion and people talking,” Fantuz explained.

“For me I just avoided big groups, a lot of conversation. After maybe 10 days I stopped feeling bad so I started activity and anytime I felt something come on or I felt a little off I took a step back. Everyday I just progressed a little bit more and more. A week after being symptom-free, progressing every day I was pretty much back to working out and running fully.”

It was Fantuz’s second documented concussion of his football career. The first came back in 2012.

“It was very similar as to how I felt. Actually the symptoms may have slightly differed, but it was pretty similar and we treated it the same way. And it was almost the same timeline for recovery,” Fantuz recalled. “It’s about how you feel. You’ve gotta be honest with yourself.”

Full credit deservedly goes the Ticats training staff for their diligence in making sure Fantuz recovered in a proper manner. The coaching staff was also patient and had the player’s best interest in mind as well. Hamilton’s bye week provided Fantuz with the time he needed to get right and return to practice in preparation for Hamilton’s Week 4 game against Calgary.

“I feel ready to go.”

New cat behind centre

After spending two seasons learning and getting small tastes of Canadian Football League action, Jeremiah Masoli is slated to start his first game at quarterback in the CFL.

Masoli’s opportunity comes due to Zach Collaros being ruled out with a concussion and back injury. Although it’s not like Masoli hasn’t earned his chance as well. In the pre-season he was efficient and productive, completing 9 of 12 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns. However his first regular season action went a little differently.

Masoli came on in relief of Collaros in Week 2 and completed just 5 passes on 15 attempts albeit it for 118 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. An average of over 23 yards per completion is impressive, but he must find a way to be more accurate. Also Masoli needs to keep ahold of the football, he fumbled three times and lost two in less than three quarters of action against Edmonton.

In a live game atmosphere one can clearly see Masoli’s positive attributes. He possesses a strong arm, quick release and shows natural athleticism when he needs to scramble or run with the football. These abilities excite his teammates.

“He’s very professional,” Fantuz said. “I have admired his work ethic since he’s been here and his approach to the game and just how much he cares about the plays and looks for errors and solutions.” 

As a receiver, Fantuz particularly likes the type of ball that Masoli throws.

“He can spin it like you haven’t seen before. And his anticipation – sometimes you get the ball earlier with him. It’s always a tight spiral.” 

“I’ve worked with him the last couple of years and this week at practice we’ve been connecting. The timing’s been well and it’s always going to improve the more you work, but I think we’re off to a good start.”

Taking the majority of reps in practice, like any starter normally would, has helped Masoli become increasingly comfortable in the offence. And the more he is in the huddle his way of leading naturally comes out.

“You can totally tell he’s very cool, calm and well-liked. He’s always motivating and bringing positive energy,” Fantuz said.

“I just want to lead by example,” Masoli said. “I’ve always been taught that way, that’s the best way to lead – leading by example so my hard work shows for itself and I command some respect from my teammates. Then if I have to get on somebody I will.”

Masoli looks to lead Hamilton to their first win of the season in his first career start, a feat that would certainly earn lots of recognition from his fellow Ticats players.