MONCTON — Atlantic Canada will play host to a natural Canadian rivalry Sunday afternoon.
Montreal and Toronto’s gridiron rivalry will be on display in Moncton as part of Touchdown Atlantic. The Alouettes and Argonauts will play each other for the first time this season at Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium.
The Alouettes are coming off a late, 11-point, overtime comeback victory against the Calgary Stampeders last week, while Toronto is coming off a 41-26 loss to Edmonton. Despite the difference in records, Als head coach Khari Jones knows not to take this game lightly.
“I don’t think of it as a trap game at all,” Jones said. “We know they’re a tough team. We know they have very good players on that football team. We don’t really worry about the record. They’ve played some tight games and lost them, but they’ve beaten a very good Winnipeg team.”
Meanwhile, Argos head coach Corey Chamblin is calling on all his players as they try to climb out of the East Division basement.
“I told them I need them, I gotta have you,” Chamblin said. “(I) talked to several guys who have been on championship teams, playoff teams and said we need you right now. We need you to step up and that message has to be reinforced that it’s no longer ‘here’s the coaches, here’s the players’, it’s ‘here’s our message that it takes all of us to win’.”
“This is the game,” Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson said. “These next three games are our season and this is the game we start it.”
Sunday afternoon’s game will be the league’s first game in Atlantic Canada since 2013. Alouettes linebacker Henoc Muamba, who played football at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, is relishing the opportunity to play in the Maritimes once more.
“I would’ve wished we played at St. FX. I would’ve wished we would’ve played in Antigonish,” Muamba said. “Being in the Maritimes always feels great. Being in this area in this country. It’s a beautiful place. I always tell people it’s one of Canada’s best kept (secrets).”
The Alouettes will get their star running back, William Stanback, back from injury Sunday. The 25-year old missed the last two games, but has rushed for 592 yards and four touchdowns through six games played.
“Whatever coach has planned for us in the backfield, I’m down for it.” Stanback said.
“If he’s ready he’ll be out there,” Jones said.
The Argos will have quarterback James Franklin back in the lineup after being removed from the six-game injured list. Chamblin says Franklin and Bethel-Thompson may both see time under centre Sunday.
“I think you’ll see both of them,” Chamblin said.
James Wilder Jr. is again listed as the backup to running back Brandon Burks on the Argos depth chart, while wide receiver Llevi Noel will also return to the lineup after sitting out due to injury.
Defensive tackle Davon Coleman gets the start for the Argos, his first since the Boatmen acquired him earlier this month. Joining him will be Jhaustin Thomas, making his second career Canadian Football League start in the middle of the Argos’ D-line.
The Als won’t have safety Taylor Loffler in the lineup. The 27-year old has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. This opens the door for Canadian Bo Lokombo to take his place.
“Obviously, having the opportunity to start … is what you want. Getting this opportunity to start at safety is tremendous. I’m definitely going to live up to it,” Lokombo told the Montreal Gazette earlier this week.
Fellow Canadian Ty Cranston will also dress as a backup behind Lokombo. Offensive tackle Tony Washington won’t dress for the game because of a personal matter, so Chris Schleuger will take his place.
BY THE NUMBERS
9 – Vernon Adams Jr. became the ninth quarterback in Alouettes’ history to throw for over 400 yards passing in a game. Anthony Calvillo has done it 23 times.
3 – The Alouettes have allowed just three sacks in their last three contests. They didn’t allow any against the Calgary Stampeders last week.
49 – Former Als receiver and current Argo S.J. Green needs 49 yards to move up to 23rd all-time among receivers in receiving yards. He currently has 9,571 and those yards would allow him to pass another former Alouette and Argo Jock Climie.
Kickoff is at 12 p.m. ET and can be seen on TSN, RDS and ESPNEWS, and followed live via CFL.ca Game Tracker.