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Rookie Matthew Shiltz to make first CFL start for Montreal versus Hamilton


HAMILTON — Jeremiah Masoli is finishing the season off with a bang.

The Hamilton quarterback has throw for over 300 yards his last four starts, including a career-best 438-yard performance in last weekend's 41-36 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks. Masoli looks to make it five straight Friday night when the Tiger-Cats (5-12) host the struggling Montreal Alouettes (3-14).

Masoli, 29, was 19-of-28 passing for 320 yards and two TDs in Hamilton's 43-16 road win over Montreal on Oct. 22. This week, he and receiver Brandon Banks — who has registered four straight 100-yard games — were named CFL top performers for October.

Hamilton is 5-4 under interim head coach June Jones, who shortly after his appointment promoted Masoli to starter ahead of incumbent Zach Collaros.

"He (Masoli) isn't the same player that's for sure," Jones said. "He's getting his basic reads, his feet are better, he's seeing the coverage we're asking him to see and that comes from repetition.

"If you evaluate him over the last four weeks, and really the last two games is when he's really started to get it, he's played as well as anybody."

The five-foot-10, 228-pound Masoli has completed 51-of-74 passes (68.9 per cent) for 758 yards and six TDs over his last two starts. This season, his fifth in the CFL, Masoli sports a 62.4 per cent completion average with a career-high 2,859 yards, 14 TDs and five interceptions.

Banks has also become one of Masoli's favourite targets with 60 catches for 935 yards and eight TDs. But the mercurial receiver — nicknamed "Speedy B" — has 52 catches for  883 yards and seven touchdowns since Jones' arrival.

On Friday, the 29-year-old Banks will chase a sixth straight 100-yard receiving performance.

"Both Jeremiah and Speedy have had improvements every week," Jones said. "They're getting better at what we're trying to do."

The Alouettes will look to a pair of rookie quarterbacks to help them snap a club-record 10-game losing streak.

Matthew Shiltz, 24, will make his first CFL start. The six-foot-two,195-pound former Butler Bulldog is to give way to Antonio Pipkin, 22, who played collegiately at Triffin, sometime in the second half.

Shiltz made appearances in three games this season, completing 28-of-45 passes for 289 yards with a TD an interception. He has also rushed eight times for 65 yards.

"It's my first career start and I'm really excited for this opportunity," Shiltz said. "It's great to go out there for the last game of the year and show my teammates and the coaching staff all the hard work that we've done and hopefully end the season on a good note.

"In terms of preparation I've just been trying to do everything kind of similar to how I've been the past few weeks of the season. As a young kid you want to try and do everything you can as if you're the starter and learn and prepare each day . . . so when you do get that opportunity you'll be ready to go."

Shiltz also played against Hamilton last month, completing 15-of-22 passes for 167 yards and an interception.

"He moved the team and ran around," Jones said of Shiltz. "He looked pretty good when he did play on film last week (in 37-12 loss to Saskatchewan).

"He presents some other issues for us."

Shiltz completed 5-of-13 passes for 47 yards against Saskatchewan but did find Sam Giguere on a 10-yard scoring strike for his first-ever CFL TD toss.

"It felt great getting that first touchdown pass to Sam," Shiltz said. "It was a great play by him and the offensive line giving me enough time to make the read and make the throw.

"It was great to get that first experience and luckily Sam was able to get the ball for me."

The Canadian Press

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