Mariuz energizes Ticat special teams
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
It was business as usual for Ray Mariuz, who came out of retirement when the Ticats needed his calming presence.
For Mariuz, there was nothing unusual when he knocked heads against his former team last week in Toronto, including the usual pain that follows any football game.
Friday night marks Mariuz’s second game and his first at Ivor Wynne Stadium since Hamilton’s stunning loss to the Argos in last year’s Eastern semi-final.
Homefield in this year’s post-season could hinge on beating Winnipeg, a team that spoiled Hamilton’s season opener when Mariuz had detached himself from football.
“I felt healthy and fresh,’’ Mariuz began when asked how he felt last week. “It’s not like they (Ticats) called me on a Monday and I showed up Tuesday for practice.
“I had some warning. But at the same time, you can’t simulate a game when you’re training.”
By his count, Mariuz lined up on two or three special teams and took some reps on defence.
Stats wise, Mariuz was credited with one special teams tackle.
What impressed Mariuz was watching the explosive nature of Hamilton’s offence.
“There are a lot of playmakers on offence,’’ Mariuz said. “Some were here last year and some weren’t here. We’ve got some talented players and it’s nice to see how they’re starting to come together.
“It’ll be exciting to watch coming down the stretch.”
And whether it’s containing Chad Owens, who produced 138 yards on three kickoff returns, or Winnipeg’s Jovon Johnson, Mariuz knows the key is to fly around and make tackles.
“The key on special teams is to always be aggressive and play fast,’’ Mariuz added. “You get into trouble by kind of playing scared, careful and being too cautious.”