Sunday is often referred to as the Lord’s Day. Yesterday, with the sun shining on top of a mountain that is adorned with a giant cross, the Montreal Alouettes faithful got to partake in a mass gathering to celebrate their belief in JC.
Except in this case, JC stood for Jonathan Crompton. The man who led his people from the valley of CFL darkness towards a land filled with victories and playoff appearances in 2014 was summoned yet again. And he sought to deliver not loaves of bread and fish to his followers, but rather a conclusive victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
That which he did, by a score of 35-14! Hallelujah!
This was also the first of many tests for the duo of Anthony Calvillo and Ryan Dinwiddie, who now have the task of running the offense together. It was Calvillo who was assigned with giving the right plays for Crompton to work with. And for the most part Anthony did pretty well on his first go-around, not confounding his pivot with erratic plays and developing a varied attack against a hard-luck Blue Bombers team still searching for salvation of their own.
Crompton did not put up any extraordinary numbers, going 14 for 27 and throwing 181 yards. But a lot of that was more due to the fact that the Alouettes had some very short fields to work with as a result of the talented feet of Stefan Logan, who was an absolute dynamo in returning kicks for Montreal. There was a bit of rust on Crompton, who had been sidelined since being knocked out of action on June 25th. Both Alouettes OCs made sure to spread the plays around in order to maximize the strengths of their pivot as well as their other weapons on offense.
JC did take advantage of the field position and the plays called, finding both Samuel Giguere and SJ Green for touchdown strikes. He also threw two interceptions, one as a result of trying to throw the ball away and another came from pressure up the middle. Winnipeg’s Khalil Bass found a hole and delivered a mighty wallop to Crompton, whose hurried pass was picked off by Sam Hurl. Remarkably, the two INTs only accounted for six of the 14 points that Winnipeg managed to muster on this beautiful sunny day in Montreal.
The star of the show yesterday was easily Stefan Logan. Despite being a spry 34 years young, he has shown time and again that he’s got wheels like no one else in this league. Logan’s had a couple of incredible returns in previous games negated due to an untimely penalty, but that wasn’t the case yesterday. He broke off an incredible 77 yard return for a touchdown yesterday and damn near did it again to kick off the second half of this football game!
This weekend was one for returners and Logan made his case heard with an outstanding game. All the hard work that Special Teams Coach Kavis Reed put his charges through has paid off in spades. And I have a feeling that it’s only just begun.
Montreal’s ridiculously good defense took a hit yesterday when MLB Kyler Elsworth left the game with an ankle injury. He’s done a tremendous job replacing Bear Woods who is also out of the lineup long-term. With Nicolas Boulay also on the sidelines yesterday due to an mishap with a machete during the team’s bye week (Pro Tip: Don’t play with knives, kids!), it was time for Montreal’s 2015 second round draft pick Nick Shortill to step up to the plate.
This kid is a stud who is going to make an impact in relief of Woods and Elsworth. A standout star with McMaster University, he’s been in pressure situations before and has shone brightly. He is double-tough, having helped the Marauders win the 2011 Vanier Cup despite being sick as a dog during the game itself. He then went to play in two more championship games with McMaster and was a leader on defense during his entire university career.
Shortill can not only deliver some punishing hits, but his athleticism knows no bounds. During one Alouettes practice this year, this young man lined up to kick a field goal from 40 yards out and he absolutely drained it! Waiting for his chances and helping out on special teams as all rookies do, now he’ll get his chance to contribute down the middle. With defensive experts like Kyries Hebert and Winston Venable by his side, Nick is going to deliver a world of hurt to the opposition.
That is, unless Jim Popp decides to hedge his bets and go all-in on acquiring the services of free agent linebacker Henoc Muamba. A lot will depend on the severity of Elsworth’s ankle injury, which is still unknown as of this column going viral.
Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day in Montreal. Just over 23,000 folks decided that it was too nice to stay indoors so they took in this football game and gave the Alouettes its best-attended game to date this season, nearly selling out Percival Molson Stadium. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the noise level from everyone who showed up in support of the Alouettes.
After weeks of half-hearted enthusiasm in the stands, Alouettes Nation got it going for this game. I’d still like to see this organization time its crowd-riling events a little better, as there were still some attempts for their crazy t-shirt guy to get everyone cranked up while the Alouettes were on offense. For the most part though, the crowd stayed with the game and knew to pipe down when Crompton and the offense were on the field.
So maybe, just maybe the hardcore football fans that understand this game only come out on Sundays. The question for the Alouettes going forward will be to figure out how to make them come out for the Thursday games, since those will not likely be going away anytime soon. If you’re going to hire some lunatic to dance up a storm and throw $2 t-shirts to people be sure it doesn’t take away from the incredible action of your team, but rather ASSIST it. Sell the sizzle along with the steak.
Regardless, the fans came out, donated a great amount of food and money to Purolator’s Tackle Hunger program and they became the 13th man on the field for the Montreal Alouettes. Let’s hope that yesterday’s great memories will translate to a completely sold-out game on Thanksgiving Monday!
The Alouettes now prepare for a trip to the prairies to take on the hapless Saskatchewan Roughriders. I wish I could say that the Riders were better than their 1-11 record indicates, but sometimes numbers don’t lie. Their loyal fans aren’t giving up and it would be extremely foolish for the Alouettes to take this team lightly.
This coming week at practice will shed some light as to whether the Alouettes stay with Jonathan Crompton as QB or will the enigmatic Rakeem Cato take back the starting job that he acquired as a result of Crompton’s injury during the first game of the season. After yesterday’s game, Head Coach/General Manager Jim Popp held off from naming his starting QB for next week.
It’s easy to say that you should ride the hot hand at quarterback, but I don’t think we really saw everything that we could have from Crompton. Cato has played very well and will be a success in this league, but he is still very much a rookie and has dealt with quite a bit on and off the field this season. We shall see what this week brings at practice, which you are welcome to check out still even if the stands at Stade Hebert are still being renovated. Full practice schedule can be found here.
With yesterday’s win, Alouettes Nation can start giving a bit more thought to the playoffs. But will it be in the East or will this team have to go west in order to return to the Grey Cup? No matter what, this team will be ready to face whatever is coming their way. A solid victory cures what ails.
Enjoy this latest win and the rest of your week, good readers.
GO ALS GO!!!