No se­cret Ja­son Maas is fiery com­peti­tor ... Red, white and blue re­ceiv­ing corps ... Penal­ties pil­ing up for Esks IRON WILL

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS -

TORONTO — The un­for­tu­nate head set that fin­ished last week’s game in more pieces than it started with wasn’t the first ob­ject to fall victim to a Ja­son Maas blowout.

The fiery for­mer quar­ter­back is mak­ing for about as in­tense a head coach as long-time friend and team­mate Ricky Ray would have ex­pected.

“For sure, yeah. He’s allin when he does some­thing so I’ve seen it on the foot­ball field, I’ve seen it on the golf course, I’ve seen it play­ing rac­quet­ball, I’ve seen it shoot­ing hoops,” said the Toronto Arg­onauts quar­ter­back, who played with Maas in Edmonton for six sea­sons that in­cluded two Grey Cup cham­pi­onships.

“He’s a very in­tense guy, and that’s what you ex­pect when you’re around him.

“Bro­ken clubs, thrown clubs, he’s just got so much pas­sion for what he does, and I think that’s why guys en­joy play­ing for him and guys en­joy be­ing his friend. He re­ally gives ev­ery­thing he’s got out there.”

What looked like a side­line tantrum to those who don’t know Maas was just pres­sure es­cap­ing the bot­tle to those who do, in­clud­ing the club that had hired as a player and again as a coach.

“I’ve said this be­fore, Ja­son was a quar­ter­back with a line­backer men­tal­ity,” said Eski­mos gen­eral man­ager Brock Sun­der­land.

“My big­gest thing is I want gen­uine­ness and that’s who he is, I think it goes re­ally wrong if you’re not who you are. I think the play­ers see through that.

“So I think there’s a fine line but I’m OK (with it). He wears his emo­tions on his sleeve and I think if he were to fake that, then the play­ers would see through it. So as long as he’s gen­uine and he is who he is, I think it’s healthy – within rea­son.” head coach at Harry Ain­lay high school, who caught passes from Ray dur­ing the Edmonton’s Grey Cup sea­sons in 2003 and ’05.

Jimmy, 24, said he re­mem­bers get­ting Ray’s au­to­graph back then.

“He tells me sto­ries about back when he was in first grade or some­thing watch­ing me play with his older broth­ers,” laughed Ray, 37. “It makes you feel a lit­tle bit old. That’s kind of cool, it’s a cool story to tell: I played with one of his broth­ers, against an­other one now, and I get a chance to play with him, a kid that grew up watch­ing me and his older brother play.”

Then again, they were in the same po­si­tion on their way to a healthy 7-0 start to the sea­son.

So what’s been the dif­fer­ence lately?

“When you win seven games and you’re able to over­come a lot of the penalty is­sues, which again, through our seven-game win­ning streak we were No. 9 in the league in penal­ties as well, so it’s not like we were just win­ning games and play­ing good foot­ball there,” said Maas. “The thing that we were good at in the seven-game streak was turnover ra­tio.

“Penal­ties have been some­thing that’s been our Achilles heel.”

Just like turnovers have plagued the Arg­onauts, who came into Satur­day’s game hav­ing lost the last 16 games when com­mit­ting more turnovers than the op­po­si­tion.

Satur­day marked the first time this sea­son the league’s lead­ing sack at­tack took aim at Eski­mos quar­ter­back Mike Reilly, with de­fen­sive end Vic­tor But­ler back in the lineup, no less.

And the 6-foot-2, 248pound Ore­gon State prod­uct, who leads the way with a blaz­ing sack-per-game pace, was look­ing for­ward to mak­ing up for lost time spent on the six-game in­jured list.

“As a com­peti­tor, you want to play some­one at their com­pet­i­tive best,” said But­ler, who played six sea­sons in the Na­tional Foot­ball League. “You don’t want to play some poop-butt quar­ter­back on some scrub team, you want to play the best of the best be­cause you have to be­lieve that your team, your unit is the best. You can only become the best by play­ing the best.

“Iron sharp­ens iron.”

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