MONTREAL — The BC Lions head to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium to kick off OK Tire Labour Day Weekend action against the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday night.
If the Lions 30-13 Week 12 loss to Hamilton proved anything, it’s that there’s no team in the league that can be taken lightly.
Their opponent this week is also coming off a tough loss, as the Alouettes fell 47-17 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Both teams need to shake off their recent performances as they remain in the thick of the hunt in their respective divisions.
The Lions 13 point performance was certainly uncharacteristic for a team averaging 25 per game and holding them down for a second straight week won’t be easy.
Vernon Adams Jr. continues to lead the league’s top ranked pass game that managed 326 yards despite struggling to put points on the board against the Ticats. Receiver Keon Hatcher will be a top target once again but will have quite the supporting cast in Lucky Whitehead and Justin McInnis.
Alexander Hollins, who’s a game-time decision, should also see plenty of passes thrown his way if he plays.
Adams Jr. said after their second straight loss there was a team meeting about what needs to be done to get back on track. The refresh starts this week against his former team.
“We all came together and said ‘let’s clear the air,’” Adams Jr. told . “We just want to pick each other up, play complimentary football and just be better. Every team in this league is good and you can’t overlook anyone. I just want to go there and get a win this week most importantly. They’re going to be well rested and we know what they bring.”
It’s the second straight tough test for the Alouettes secondary after holding the Bombers to 251 yards. Marc-Antoine Dequoy and Reggie Stubblefield will draw the assignment of shutting down Hatcher, Hollins, and company. Dequoy picked off a pair of Zach Collaros passes last week, one returned for a touchdown.
The secondary will see the return on Ciante Evans, a welcome sign against a set of receivers that can spread the field.
With a talented defence focused on closing space on their receivers downfield, the play of running back Taquan Mizzell Sr. could be a key to victory. The Lions currently have the ninth ranked run game, averaging 75.9 yards.
While the Alouettes front is surrendering over 100 yards per game, it’s a unit that has been stabilized since the arrival of defensive lineman Shawn Lemon. Fellow lineman Mustafa Johnson is also having a strong campaign and recorded his fourth sack against the Bombers.
Sustaining their offensive output will be what Alouettes head coach Jason Maas will be looking for this week as they failed to score in the second half against Winnipeg.
The offence’s ability to make adjustments, especially in the air, will be crucial as they see another stiff secondary. Defensive backs T.J. Lee, Quincy Mauger and Garry Peters are tasked with shutting down dynamic playmakers in Austin Mack, Tyson Philpot, and Tyler Snead, who combined for 112 yards in their most recent loss.
With Maas showing he’s willing to spread the handoffs around, William Stanback and Jeshrun Antwi will try to replicate what James Butler did to the Lions when he rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown last week.
In order to do it, the offensive line led by Justin Lawrence and Nick Callender have to deal with a talented defensive line and linebacker corps eager to turn their performance around.
Head coach Rick Campbell still believes in his team despite their recent hiccups.
“I think we’re a good football team and we’re a work in progress,” Campbell told “We just have to make sure we have great energy and great urgency every game. Everyone’s going to be fighting the second half of the season. Everyone’s fighting for their spots and we’re no different.”
A win gets the Lions a step closer to division leading Winnipeg.
Four points behind Toronto, the Alouettes need a win if they hope to keep the East Division title in their sights.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and can be watched on TSN/RDS and CFL+ (International and U.S. viewers).
– With files from BCLions.com