No matter what happens during tonight’s game, history will be made
The Montreal Alouettes will defend the nest against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Friday night and this game will be historic for many reasons. It will feature a pair of 1-3 teams that look to be heading into totally different directions. Montreal is reeling, having lost their third game in a row this past Monday while Saskatchewan finally got their first win in an overtime thriller last week versus Ottawa.
If there is one thing that favours Montreal in this game, it’s that they typically play very hard and very well against Saskatchewan at Percival Molson Stadium. Since 2008, the Alouettes have only lost twice at home versus the Riders and both times were by a mere three points. And let’s not forget 2009 and 2010, when the Alouettes won the best of 3 season series (the third game both times being the Grey Cup game, of course). So history certainly favours the Birds of Prey for tonight’s match up.
Another decided advantage for Montreal is the fact that Saskatchewan is dealing with a myriad of injury issues. The Riders currently have 20 players on the 6 game injured list. The Riders are also missing their starting quarterback Darian Durant, so former Toronto Argonaut Mitchell Gale will be making the start again. It was his solid play that led to the victory against the Redblacks and he will have to bring that same magic with him to La Belle Province to face another stingy defensive unit.
The play of said defense is going to be key if Montreal is going to post their second victory of the season Friday evening. Noel Thorpe‘s charges played extremely well to start the first half against Toronto, but untimely penalties are what undid an otherwise fantastic effort. The biggest threat that Montreal’s D faces is wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt. He has quickly become a favorite target in Riderville and is on pace to notch over 2100 yards this season, averaging nearly 120 receiving yards per game in 2016 so far.
This will be yet another test for Montreal’s rookie defensive backs Jonathan Mincy and Ethan Davis. In addition to Roosevelt they will also have to contend with another dynamo in Nic Demski as well as wily veteran Rob Bagg. Mincy has been a pleasant surprise thus far this season whereas Davis has looked overmatched by opposing receivers. Both will have to step up big and a strong showing against this Riders team will go a long way.
Montreal’s defensive line is going to also have to take advantage of a very inexperienced Saskatchewan O-line. If John Bowman and Alan-Michael Cash can get right in Mitchell Gale’s kitchen it can be a very long night for Rider Nation, who will no doubt invade Percival Molson to support their beloved men in green.
Alouettes quarterback Kevin Glenn knows this Roughriders team very well, having played with them last season during their unfortunate 3-15 campaign. Glenn is going to have to make complete use of all of his weapons, including superstar wide receiver Duron Carter. They connected this past Monday for a 61-yard touchdown strike and they would be wise to do that again as many times as possible versus Saskatchewan.
KG will also want to find more of his other receivers, including B.J. Cunningham, Nik Lewis and Alex Charette. All three are bona fide playmakers and can create all sorts of excitement for Montreal. I would also like to see more of a ground game being used against the Riders, including using studs like Brandon Rutley and J-C Beaulieu in the backfield.
Montreal’s young O-line is going to have their hands full, having to deal with such players as Justin Capicciotti and ex-Alouette Corvey Irwin. It would be great for the offensive linemen to be able to create holes for the running backs but in all honesty, they really only have one job: protect the quarterback. Keeping Kevin Glenn vertical is going to be crucial if Montreal is going to end the month of July with a victory.
These games are often high-scoring affairs and I have a feeling that this game will not be any different. Emotions are going to be running very high for Montreal as they seek to not embarrass themselves in front of one of the greatest players that has ever played in red/blue/silver.
In case you have been living under a rock the past few weeks, the Alouettes will be retiring the jersey of the legendary Ben Cahoon at halftime. The #86 will take its rightful place amongst the many other famous numbers that have been retired by this Alouettes organization.
I can’t begin to put into words just what Ben Cahoon means to the fans of the Montreal Alouettes. Not only was he one of the finest players to ever wear the uniform, but a greater man you will not meet. What truly made him stand out amongst everybody else was just how humble this man was. He seemed almost embarrassed every time you told him just how awesome you thought he was.
How beloved is Ben Cahoon in this city? A couple of seasons ago, the Montreal Alouettes team made the unfortunate mistake of putting the number 86 on one of their young training camp invitees. Suffice to say that many fans in attendance were beside themselves, almost indignant that this team would even dream of doing such a thing. Unintentional or not, many felt it truly was a slap in the face to the legend of Ben Cahoon and the team never heard the end of it. For these fans, Friday evening will be the righting of that major wrong.
It should be noted that the last time the Montreal Alouettes retired a jersey while playing the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Als completely dominated and posted a 40-9 victory in front of a raucous Molson Stadium crowd. This game is not sold out yet, but I am faithful that this city will show up to pay homage to one of it’s sports legends.
That’s all for now. Be sure to check out the tailgate beforehand, hosted by Les Gars Qui Vivent. I’d be very surprised if they don’t have something planned to honour Ben Cahoon in their own unique way. If not, at least you can be assured of some good times, grills to cook your grub and some great football chat. As always, look for the big silver trailer and blue tent on the east side of the stadium.
Be sure to follow along on Twitter for last-minute thoughts on this historic game day. If you need something to listen to on the shuttle bus, download the latest episode of the Alouettes FlightDeck podcast. Now available on iTunes and Google Play Music!
This will be a game that we won’t soon forget. Ben Cahoon, we speak your name!
Enjoy the game tonight, regardless of where you watch it.
GO ALS GO!!!