Eskimos have enough motivation to get them to a hometown Grey Cup appearance, coach says

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Eskimos have enough motivation to get them to a hometown Grey Cup appearance, coach says

The heartbreaker loss in the West Division final is still on the minds of Jason Maas, Derel Walker and the rest of the 2017 Edmonton Eskimos team.

But the team is using that as added motivation to get where they think they should be in the upcoming season: competing for a Grey Cup.

"When you've gone to as many finals as we have the last few years … that can drive you," Maas, head coach of the Eskimos, told reporters at the Eskimos' training camp on Monday.

It was his call to kick a field goal down seven with 1:43 left in the game instead of trying to advance the ball. He hoped his team would recover the ball in time for one final drive to win the game, but the Eskimos fumbled on the return and the Stampeders recovered it.

With hindsight firmly sitting at 20/20, many fans questioned the call. But Maas hopes he and his players will pull motivation from the events in last year's West final.

"You might move on and learn, but you never forget your past," Maas said.

That, coupled with the city hosting the 106th Grey Cup this year, is plenty of motivation for Walker.

"It being here, in our own home, is just more fuel added to the fire," Walker said Monday. "Last year, losing in the Western final like that to Calgary, it adds more fuel to the fire."

'Pedal to the metal'

For new addition Alex Bazzie, this was the exactly the kind of situation he hoped to be part of. Bazzie signed with the Eskimos as a free agent this year and was looking for a team with the kind of motivation the Eskimos should have this year.

"That was the reason I wanted to join this organization," Bazzie said Monday. "I felt that they were going to come into the off-season with a purpose."

He's hoping to make his mark on the defensive line, which is missing fan favourite Odell Willis this year. "It's all going to start with my play on the field," Bazzie said. "They're going to fall in love with that first before trying to get to know me outside the field."

Maas hopes the new teammates see the determination he sees on his players' faces. "There's a lot of things that can motivate our guys," he said.

For Walker, he hopes that motivation can take them to the Grey Cup.

"We're all gas, no brakes. We're pedal to the metal," Walker said. "We're going to fight for each other this year and see where it takes us."