Edmonton General Manager Brock Sunderland speaks to media after being knocked out of the Eastern final on Sunday, in Edmonton on November 18, 2019. Edmonton has hired Jaime Elizondo as its head coach and offensive co-ordinator. The move reunites Elizondo with Sunderland after the pair worked together in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

Edmonton Football Team hires Jaime Elizondo as new head coach/offensive co-ordinator

Edmonton Football Team hires Jaime Elizondo as new head coach/offensive co-ordinator

EDMONTON — Jaime Elizondo, Brock Sunderland and Trevor Harris are all together again.

Elizondo was hired as the head coach of the Edmonton Football Team on Monday and will also serve as the offensive co-ordinator and quarterback coach.

He replaces Scott Milanovich, who resigned as head coach and offensive co-ordinator last week and is expected to be named the quarterback coach of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

The move reunites Elizondo with Sunderland, Edmonton’s GM, and starter Harris as all three previously spent time together with the Ottawa Redblacks: Sunderland as the assistant GM; Elizondo as the offensive co-ordinator and Harris as the starting quarterback.

“(Elizondo) and I met in 2016 in Ottawa and we immediately connected due to our passion for football and also how we feel building a championship program is done,” Sunderland. who became Edmonton’s GM in 2017, said during a video conference “He’s a tireless worker who’s truly the first one in and the last one out.

“Along with his passion, work ethic and creativity as a play-caller, Jaime is a great leader who understands that football and the the culture and of a team is about people first.”

Elizondo resigned his post with Ottawa in April 2019, eventually joining Marc Trestman’s coaching staff in the XFL. The move came roughly three months after the Redblacks prevented Elizondo from interviewing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders head-coaching job after Chris Jones left to join the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

“I feel (Elizondo) has been ready to be a head coach for years now and he was the first person I contacted about a head-coaching vacancy in 2019,” Sunderland said. “Fast-forward to last week and he again was the first person I contacted for this role.

“Luckily for us this time, there was no team or league to prohibit him from speaking to us about this opportunity.”

As a result, Elizondo is now a head coach for the first time in his coaching career.

“Since I started coaching I always dreamt of one day being a head coach,” he said. “In the last few years i wasn’t sure if that would ever happen.

“It’s a little surreal right now but I’m extremely humbled to follow in the footsteps of coaches like Pop Ivy, Hugh Campbell and Ron Lancaster.”

Elizondo served as Ottawa’s offensive co-ordinator from 2016-2018, helping the franchise reach the Grey Cup twice in three years, winning in 2016. The Redblacks won the CFL title with veteran quarterback Henry Burris and reached the ‘18 final with Harris before losing 27-16 to Calgary.

Harris threw for a career-high 5,116 yards in 2018 and had a league playoff-record six touchdown passes in Ottawa’s 46-27 East Division final win over Hamilton. Harris has accumulated 13,096 passing yards and 68 touchdowns and completed over 70 per cent of his passes playing for Elizondo.

“I remember when Brock and I were working together in 2016 in Ottawa,” Elizondo said. “We’d sit for hours talking philosophy, attitudes, vision, how we saw the game, our approach to managing, building a roster, the philosophies on the various roles.

“Those conversations were crucial then because we always felt if we had a chance to work together one day we’d both relish that opportunity. We now get the chance to do this together.”

Elizondo began his CFL coaching career in 2008 as a receivers coach with Montreal. After spending the 2009 season at Syracuse University, Elizondo returned to the CFL in 2010 as Toronto’s offensive co-ordinator and receivers coach.

Elizondo completed a second stint with Toronto as receivers coach in 2015 before joining the Redblacks.

Elizondo is a graduate of the University of Maryland and also holds a law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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