Jake Maier ready to take another step for the Stampeders
When Jake Maier and the Calgary Stampeders take to the field against the B.C. Lions on Thursday night, he says he'll finally be able to put behind him the loss to the Lions in last years' western semi-final.
The Lions beat the Stamps 30-16 in that game and Maier was pulled in favour of Bo Levi Mitchell in the fourth quarter.
"It's been a long six months for sure. So yeah, it is good to lace them back up," the 26-year-old said.
"But it is a new year and I don't want to lose sight of ... hanging on too much to what happened in the past or whatever.
"The most important game of my career," he added, "is Thursday."
Even though Maier doesn't like to dwell on that loss, he admits it gave him plenty of motivation in the off-season.
"It drove me in terms of looking at myself and looking at our group of guys that are coming back and how can we improve," he said.
"You know the off-season was awesome. It was just work, work, work and now that work is over, so it's time to go show what happens."
This is Maier's third season in the red and white but it will be the first that he's the starter from day one.
Maier took over from Mitchell as the team's number one quarterback last season. And even though he was the starter, it wasn't completely his team.
That changed when Mitchell was dealt to the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the off-season.
Mitchell had a big voice in the Stampeders locker room. Maier says now it's time for him to lead.
BECOMING MORE OF A LEADER
"It's (trading Mitchell) allowed me to have a little more ownership of the room," Maier said.
"In the locker room, the practice field and in the meetings - you know, have a powerful voice in all of those aspects.
"But it's a natural environment for me, I feel confident in being a leader of a team or leader of a group of men."
READY TO FOLLOW
On Wednesday, Maier was named one of the captains of the Stampeders.
Running back Ka'Deem Carey says he's noticed a big difference in Maier from this season to last.
"He's a whole different person," Carey said.
"His swag and the energy that he brings to the team, his playmaking abilities - we're ready to go with Jake.
"Everybody's bonding with him and you're going to see a different Stamps team when we take to the field because he's the general," Carey said. "He's a different chief and he's ready to go. He's going to show you guys."
The Stamps knew they had a good one in Maier right from the start.
Head coach Dave Dickenson says the young quarterback has a lot of great qualities.
"The kid is confident and he loves the game," said Dickenson.
"He's smart and competitive and he's got his feet in the ground, meaning that he wasn't super cocky from day one. He does need to improve his on-field stuff because he hasn't played a lot. Which means keep seeing it, keep improving.
Maier and the Stamps kick off the regular season on Thursday night at 7:00 pm against the Lions at McMahon stadium.