To keep Cup, Esks have to hit new level

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Danny Maciocia will not be sitting still this winter.

Although the Edmonton Eskimos are the Grey Cup champions, their head coach doesn't want to maintain the status quo entering opening day next summer.

"It is not easy to repeat and in order to repeat I think you need to be 20 to 25 per cent better with your personnel and even coaching staff," said the head coach.

"So, we all have to get a little bit better and that is going to be a major topic of conversation during the off-season.

"We just can't be the same because (success) is just not going to happen."

There is definitely one spot to fill on the offensive line with Bruce Beaton's retirement and there could be two more vacant positions by training camp.

In the secondary, four of the five starters are at least 31 years old.

As for the coaching staff, Maciocia would like his seven assistants to return, but his unsure if he will get his wish.

"The football season in the United States is coming to an end and a lot of jobs (down there) are going to be available," he explained.

SHORT YARDAGE: You can scratch one name off the Edmonton free-agent list. Backup safety William Loftus has signed a three-year deal.

"This is a great organization. The guys get along so well," said Loftus, also citing coaching and the top-notch Commonwealth Stadium facility as reasons for signing the two-year plus an option contract.

Although he's behind Kelly Wiltshire on the depth chart, Loftus had no desire to test the free agent market in February to find a team that could offer more playing time.

"At this point in my career, winning is more important than anything," said the 30-year-old non-import.

"To be able to contribute in any way I can is great."

LATE HITS: With the Edmonton Eskimos for the last 35 years, equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak has now earned 10 Grey Cup rings, more than anybody else in the dressing room.

His family now has earned 15 rings, as his two sons who also work in the room each have two.

And his wife has one.

"She used to be the (Eskimo) ticket office manager," said Mandrusiak.

The rings are kept in a safety deposit box in a bank, with Mandrusiak usually wearing just one ring.

"But during Grey Cup"and occasionally in Calgary"I wear two rings," he said.

EXTRA POINTS: Ring salespersons had a variety of team rings on display yesterday at Commonwealth Stadium.

The club won't formalize its ring choice until sometime in January.


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