Matt Shiltz returns to face the team that revived his career

Matt Shiltz is a studious man, so he’s aware of the temptation to overdo it, as there always is when a professional athlete takes on an old team. Especially the one who finally rejected him.

But even in the immediate aftermath of last week’s tactical and necessary win over the Toronto Argonauts, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback acknowledged that his next assignment — his second straight start as Dane’s shoulder Evans returns to form – would demand emotional thrills. control and a coldly analytical approach.

Shiltz, 29, will indeed be in charge once again, with Evans also in uniform, when the Ticats travel to Montreal on Saturday afternoon to face the Alouettes, with whom they are tied for second in the CFL East standings. . Shiltz had been with the Alouettes since 2017 and played seven games last year, starting three, before being released in early February and signed within 48 hours by the Cats.

He led the Ticats to a 34-27 win over the Argos last Friday by overcoming his lack of practice time that week, a first-quarter Argo interception that sparked an injury-laden Argo lead. to the lower body that kept him out for the entire third quarter, and a deflating penalty that nullified an apparent Lawrence Woods punt return touchdown.

Shiltz conceded that it’s natural to want to show a team that rejected him that they had made a colossal error in judgement. This will be the first return to Montreal for him and Khari Jones, who was his head coach with the Alouettes and is now an offensive consultant for the Ticats.

But, he said, he would channel the adrenaline rush into following the offensive coordinator of the game plan that Tommy Condell has laid out for him.

“I can’t deny that I spent five seasons there and loved the people, loved the fans, loved the city, I have a lot of friends in the team,” Shiltz said this week. “But I’m happy to be where I am now. I think it’s a good new start in my career.

Shiltz will rely in part on his college background to narrow the game, and his role in it, to specific problem-solving elements. He earned a double major in Accounting and Management Information Systems, from Butler University where he was the starting quarterback for much of his four years playing, but also moved to defensive back for his second season when it suited the needs of the team better.

He was also named the 2015 Pioneer Football League Athlete-Scholar of the Year and was on the conference’s all-academic first team on multiple occasions.

“I’ve always been proud of it, managing my affairs in the classroom as well as on the football pitch,” he says. “I think a lot of that translates to the football side. When you study for a math exam, you have to go through all the scenarios and problems that you might face and you can apply that to the sports world.

After graduating from the 2015 senior season, Shiltz had looks from the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis of the NFL, and the Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, but no concrete offers, so in assuming his quarterback days were over, he began his career off the field, studying for his CPA (Certified Professional Accountant) exams and working in the auditing group of professional services giant Ernst & Young. But he planned to leave the company and do a full-year internship in football operations with the NFL Colts.

“Around Christmas, my mother (Karen Kabellis-Shiltz) said, ‘You never know how God is going to work in your life. You never know when a team will call you. And I was, like, ‘Yeah, whatever, that’s not how it works. You have to get a movie, you have to play.

But, shortly after, his agent called while Shiltz was in an audit meeting with a company client and said Kavis Reed, then the Alouettes’ general manager, was interested in signing him. He went to mini-camp in Florida, got an invite to 2017 training camp, and made the team. He completed his last two CPA exams after this season, but probably won’t put in the required practical work time because once his CFL career is over, he wants to stay in football in management or operations.

The Alouettes traded for veteran Travis Harris last October and Shiltz slipped down the depth chart. He was cut in February and general manager Danny Maciocia fired head coach Jones just four games this season.

Jones and Shiltz were still together in Montreal nine months ago, on November 29, the day after the Tiger-Cats lost to the Alouettes in the Eastern semi-finals at Tim Hortons Field. That morning, her 61-year-old mother, who had survived cancer, was killed in a car accident in Dallas while returning from dropping off one of Shiltz’s two brothers at the airport.

“We had our exit interviews on Monday, and that’s when I got the call in the locker room,” Shiltz says, his voice cracking. “I had a lot of friends on the team with me, and Khari was one of the first people to talk to me and support me. I still have a lot of love for Coach and the guys who were in the room to support me.

“My mother was my the biggest supporter both in football and in my religious life and she would send me pre-game thoughts and be the one I would vent or talk to. She would keep me grounded, keep me motivated. I know she loved me and my two brothers, we were her world.

“It’s definitely still very fresh. It was hard on Mother’s Day, on her birthday. I definitely play with her as inspiration. I know she wants to see me continue to pursue this.

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