The CFL’s easternmost team is heading even further East in search of their next victory.
It’s Touchdown Atlantic time and the Montreal Alouettes are taking flight to the city of Moncton, New Brunswick. Awaiting them at Stade Croix Bleue Medavie Stadium is a match Sunday versus the Toronto Argonauts, who have had it pretty tough in 2019.
The Argos limp into Moncton with just one win and they will be playing desperate football. They’ve played some tough games but just can’t seem to finish. It will be up to McLeod Bethel-Thompson to get that second win as Zach Collaros still remains on the sidelines for the Double Blue. The Agros’ offense has been putting points on the board, but still can’t seem to prevent their opponents from scoring.
That bodes well for one Vernon Adams Jr., who’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can produce on the field. Coming off a thrilling double OT versus Calgary where he threw for over 400 yards, Adams will be looking to pad his impressive stats even further.
Expect Adams to target DeVier Posey and Eugene Lewis even more, as those two receivers cracked the century mark in yards versus a tough Calgary defense. These two can easily stretch the field against a Toronto defense that’s struggled to shut down opposing QBs.
The Alouettes will have RB extraordinaire William Stanback in the lineup after missing a couple of games with a foot injury. His presence will alleviate some of the pressure on Adams to tuck the ball and run. Stanback has been a delight to watch in 2019 and I expect him to be a physical presence in Moncton this Sunday.
The key for Montreal’s defense will be shutting down former Alouette S.J. Green, who’s been one of the few bright spots for the Argos this season. The addition of Derel Walker in free agency hasn’t produced quite as well as they hoped and as a result, SJ is still proving the doubters wrong.
He’ll be in tough as he will have to face the deadly duo of Tommie Campbell and Greg Reid. These two have wrecked havoc all season long in the boundary and Reid played Green tough last season when Toronto and Montreal met. Suffice to say that Bethel-Thompson will have to earn every yard against this defense.
The Alouettes won’t have Taylor Loffler in the lineup as he suffered a torn ACL last week versus Calgary and will be out for the year. It will be Bo Lokombo and Ty Cranston picking up the slack at safety for Montreal. Both are bonafide playmakers and will look to give the Argos plenty of fits.
This won’t be a cakewalk for Montreal. The Argos still have a potent offense and will be hoping that the Alouettes will take them lightly. But Montreal is riding a wave of momentum and a win against a divisional opponent is always crucial.
I’m expecting Montreal to win, but it will have to be earned. Nothing has come easy for the Alouettes and this will be no exception.
This isn’t a vacation, but another business trip. And the mission is crystal clear.
This is yet another edition of Touchdown Atlantic, the first time since 2013 that the CFL is trying to showcase this league in hopes of developing a fanbase in the Maritimes. Yet since the league decided to play a regular season game in Moncton in 2010, the amount of promotion done to generate excitement has dovetailed considerably.
The league did a half-hearted attempt to promote the last game in 2013 but ultimately failed to turn the weekend into the “mini Grey Cup” that fans likened previous Touchdown Atlantics to.
When the league announced that Touchdown Atlantic was returning in 2019, it was on the heels of the announcement of the conditional awarding of the Atlantic Schooners franchise during Grey Cup week last November. This new ownership group looked to use this year’s Touchdown Atlantic event to promote this game and garner interest in getting a stadium built in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Instead, the announcement of Montreal and Toronto (at the time, the two worst teams in the league and with Toronto dead last in home attendance) playing the game with inflated ticket prices was met with eye rolling and disappointment.
Initially, the idea of paying top dollar to watch these teams play on a Sunday NIGHT certainly dampened early ticket sales. Thankfully the Schooners group rescheduled the game to the Sunday afternoon, lowered ticket prices and organized game day bus trips from other cities in the Maritimes in order to bolster interest in the game.
It remains to be seen just what kind of impact this game will have on the city of Moncton itself. The endgame is to eventually have this event played in Halifax. But so long as this ownership group waits for funding to come in from any level of government to build a CFL-capable stadium, we will have to accept that this game (and potential Schooners regular season games) is played in New Brunswick for a while yet.
I really hope Sunday’s game is a success. But the league really needs to put the energy into it and make it into that mini Grey Cup that is was back in 2010 and 2011. And in my opinion, you have to have actual events planned for the entire weekend.
So far all I have seen for this year is an alumni golf tournament (organized by former Roughriders play-by-play man Rod Pedersen) and a couple of game day activities. Why not have actual team events the day before? Or better yet, showcase the university games that are currently happening in the Maritimes?
Can you imagine the rub USports could have gotten had the CFL featured their games at this stadium on the Saturday? Making this a full Canadian football weekend could have really stoked the fires for the Atlantic region.
Here’s hoping that one day, the league gets this potential spectacle right.
That’s all for now. I’m curious to see just how this region responds this time around to Touchdown Atlantic. Seeing as now that there is the real possibility that sooner rather than later, they will have a team to call their own.
Im looking forward to seeing this unfold on TV and hope that it ends up being a game to remember. As always, you can follow along on Twitter for all your game day thoughts and analysis.
Enjoy the game tomorrow, regardless of where you watch it.