Former roomates Trevor Harris and Zach Collaros face off in Battle of Ontario

Former roomates Trevor Harris and Zach Collaros face off in Battle of Ontario

The Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats have faced each other countless times over the years, but the twist in Monday's game (7 p.m. Eastern, TSN/ESPN2) involves the starting quarterbacks. Both Hamilton's Zach Collaros and Toronto's Trevor Harris were at one point backups to Ricky Ray with the Argonauts (Ray is still with Toronto, but is on the six-game injured list, recovering from a shoulder injury), where they roomed together on the road, and both have stepped out of his shadow to shine on their own. Now, they're facing each other for the first time as starters.'s Justin Dunk got some interesting comments from Argonauts' head coach Scott Milanovich about the two quarterbacks, why they both fit in his system, and how they compare to other QBs he's coached, such as Ray and Anthony Calvillo. Here's the key part of what Milanovich told Dunk:

"What we do for each quarterback is try to build the game plan around their skillset, and almost every quarterback has a different skillset. Zach was different then Trevor, and Ricky was different than AC. We try to find some things that they do well and maybe start sprinkling in some things that are maybe unknown, whether they can throw this pass or that pass, but we try to stay with their realm of comfort. ..."

"You have to be able to throw. I'm not necessarily looking for just a pocket passer, like a Ricky, but first and foremost, you have to be accurate. If we can find a guy that can do all the things that Ricky can do and still run like Michael Vick, that would be the perfect guy for us, but those guys are hard to find, so we're just looking first and foremost for a guy that's intelligent, willing to work and is accurate throwing."

But how do the two quarterbacks stack up against each other? Milanovich addressed that after practice last Wednesday:

"They're different styles of quarterback. It's tough to compare them, because both would argue. Trevor's more of a Ricky Ray type of quarterback, while Zach, while still having the ability to be a pocket passer, is maybe a bit more dynamic outside the pocket. Trevor would argue that, and Zach would argue it the other way, but that's how I see their strengths. They're both winners, they're both very competitive, they do a great job of preparing and understanding the game plan and studying defences. Ultimately, I think they're both going to be successful."

Even the circumstances under which they both first got to shine were similar, with both stepping up thanks to long-term injuries to Ray; Collaros did that in 2013 and parlayed that into a free-agent deal with Hamilton in the offseason, while Harris has received his first major action this year thanks to Ray being out. Milanovich said while both players took many observers by surprise, their success wasn't as shocking to the team:

"It's very similar circumstances, on the road, maybe surprising some people outside the organization, but I don't know that either of those two ever have any doubts in their abilities. They just needed an opportunity."

The Collaros and Harris similarities go further, though, as they roomed together with the Argonauts. TSN's Matthew Scianitti got them to talk about each other this week, and both players have a lot of respect for each other:

"Zach's up there, he's very impressive every time, and every time we talk, I say, 'You're tops in the league, man," Harris said.

Collaros responded, "Wow, I don't know why he'd say that, but yeah, I don't know, that's just Trevor being a smartass."

"I text him good luck and everything like that, and I'm just happy for him and where he's at in his career,"
 Harris said. "He deserves where he's at, being a starting quarterback, and he's going to be a top-tier quarterback in this league for sometime to come."

"It's quintessential Trevor, the way he's playing, and I don't think anyone there is surprised at the success he is because of the kind of guy he is, the kind of man he is," Collaros said.

Scianitti also got them to comment on their weaknesses compared to the other's strengths.

"I tend to deviate from the plan at times and run around, and he's a lot better at getting down to his checkdowns and staying within the realm of the offence, which is why I think he's perfect in that offence," Collaros said.

"The misconception is Zach's a scrambler and he does a lot of stuff with his feet, but he does a lot of work with his arm," Harris said. "He uses his feet when necessary, and so in that aspect I think he and I are similar, but Zach's a little more mobile compared to myself. I'll never be or claim to be him, but I think I'm more in the mold of Ricky Ray, I like to stay in the pocket."

They both said they haven't been trash-talking heading into this, with Harris saying he expects both to come out and play hard Monday.

"I don't think he'd ever say 'We're going to win,' or I'd ever say 'We're going to win,'" Harris said. "That's kind of petty, and that's kind of childish. We're both going to go into the game with our hair on fire and try to win the game."

While they both started as "Ricky Ray's replacement," both Harris and Collaros have managed to make much more of a name for themselves with their own play. We'll see who comes out on top Monday night.