O’Leary: Stanback’s return can only benefit surging Als

Things just keep getting better for the Montreal Alouettes.

While they enjoy a resurgence in the standings — they’re 4-4 after four consecutive years out of the playoffs and are coming off of an unbelievable comeback overtime win against Calgary — they were able to reinsert a bulldozer of a running back into the lineup.

William Stanback was listed as the team’s starter for Sunday’s Touchdown Atlantic game in Moncton, N.B. The 25-year-old gets back into the lineup after missing the last two games with a heel injury. He’ll line up next to Vernon Adams Jr., who rejoined the team last week in time to lead it to its first win in Calgary in 10 years.

Stanback has 87 carries this year for 592 yards and four touchdowns, with 15 receptions for 161 yards.

“I’m excited to get back to practice with the guys,” Stanback said after Saturday’s walkthrough in Moncton.

“The energy that’s out there in practice, the competition, just getting each other better. It just feels good to be back out there.”


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Als head coach Khari Jones said he planned on using both Stanback and Jeremiah Johnson in Sunday’s game, but that Stanback had a strong week of practice and didn’t need to be limited.

“He’ll see quite a bit (of playing time),” the coach said.

“He looked like himself out there and that’s the basic thing I was looking for, making sure he wasn’t limping wasn’t favouring anything. He’ll be fine. It’s good to have both he and J.J. on the roster and we’re going to use those guys accordingly.”

While it’s a neutral site game, Stanback should feel at least a little comfort when he gets on the field. His girlfriend is from Moncton. She’ll have some of her family in the stands at Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium. Given the team’s struggles over the last few years, Stanback is happy to get to show those close to him a team that for the first time in a long time, has some direction.

“It’s much different (this year),” he said. “The camaraderie that the guys have in the locker room, just different personalities, that are all together as one.

“I felt last year there was a lot of finger pointing if things didn’t go the way we planned it and a lot of negativity in the locker room. We don’t have that this year. A lot of people are bonding, much more hanging out on and off the field and it’s really great this year.”


This is the Alouettes and Argos’ first meeting this year, but Stanback should be confident heading into Sunday’s game. As he nears the midpoint of the season, he has feasted on his East Division rivals. He had 78 yards rushing in a loss to Hamilton in Week 2 and followed it up with a career-best 203 yards a week later in their rematch. He had 100 yards in a win against Ottawa in Week 5 and put 88 more yards on them in a Week 8 loss to the REDBLACKS.

“Every week, week-in and week-out, we’re going hard making sure we’re in the film room hours after work. We just do what we have to do to make sure we come out and perform.”

Against an Argos defence that has allowed a league-worst 1,108 yards, Stanback could be tucking a napkin into the front of his jersey on Sunday.