Stanback back, the Alouettes seek a spot in the CFL playoffs against the Rouge et Noir
MONTREAL — A victory on Monday would be worth its weight in gold for the Montreal Alouettes.
A CFL team chasing a .500 record for most of the season, the Alouettes (7-7) can both clinch a playoff berth and a postseason home game with a victory on Thanksgiving Day against the visiting Ottawa Redblacks (3-11).
The Alouettes face a Red and Black team with a modified sideline.
Coach Paul LaPolice was fired following a 34-19 loss to the BC Lions on Sept. 30. Special teams coordinator Bob Dyce assumed the interim role with four regular season games remaining.
Rouge et Noir quarterbacks coach Will Arndt will announce the games at Percival Molson Stadium.
“The biggest thing I want to do is I want to make sure the players are able to be successful,” Dyce said. “I don’t want to rush into anything. I know we’re on a short time frame, but I want to get it right for these four games.
“I have a lot of respect for these guys in the dressing room and I want to make sure that we do things right and that will allow us to establish a solid base here.”
Alouettes general manager and interim coach Danny Maciocia insisted his team will not underestimate Ottawa.
“I think they are a team that is very proud and they have a coach who is able to motivate his players,” Maciocia said of the opponent. “I’m sure they’re going to give us a hell of a push. It’s going to be very important to match their intensity that they bring to us.”
“We don’t want to disrespect them, it’s really important. They are professional players, they are trained and they have their pride.”
The Alouettes welcome the return of star running back William Stanback. The two-time CFL star and running leader last season hasn’t played since breaking his ankle in the season opener against the Calgary Stampeders.
“When you add that element, it can definitely dictate a lot of things the defense can and can’t do,” Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris said of Stanback.
“It also helps us establish the run by being able late in games to use our action game, give him the ball and know we’re going to get down and be able to get positive yards. ”
Stanback is a significant improvement on the Montreal offense, but Maciocia remains cautious about how much play he will play on Monday. Montreal has a quick turnaround after Monday’s game with another Friday in Ottawa.
The coach demanded three painless practices from Stanback to get him into Monday’s lineup. With that done, Maciocia will play one of his most dominant players, but in a limited way.
“What’s important for us is to be really strategic with William,” Maciocia said. “He hasn’t played since the start of the year. We have two games in five days. I don’t think we can afford to give him 20 litters on Monday and 20 litters on Friday, that’s not not realistic.
“We have to have a plan, which we have already established with the coaches. We have shared it with the players, including Will, so he will have a say in our success on Monday I hope but it is not a player who will lead 60 or 70 games.”
Harris acknowledged Stanback as an offensive asset, but also pointed out that the Alouettes had hit a .500 record without him. Other running backs filled it in for the star while he was away.
“To say that our other fullbacks haven’t done a great job would be doing them a disservice because I think Walter Fletcher is an absolute budding star in this league,” Harris said. I didn’t expect it and all of a sudden he jumps for 70 (meters).
In addition to the head coaching reshuffle, the Rouge et Noir also added two new faces to their coaching staff this week. Doug Malone, who was an offensive line coach for the Lions, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, joined as an offensive consultant.
Cory McDiarmid joining as a special teams assistant means he’s been on the coaching staff of every current CFL team except the Tiger-Cats.
MONTREAL ALOUETTES (7-7) VS. OTTAWA REDBLACKS (3-11)
POWELL’S RETURN: The Redblacks pick up running back William Powell on Monday. The 34-year-old last played in Ottawa’s 17-3 loss to the Stampeders on Aug. 5 when he injured his knee.
ROMICK 100: Defensive end Nigel Romick will play his 100th career game on Monday. The 31-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ont. spent his eight seasons in the CFL with the Redblacks.