CFL Pass

CFL's Moncton trip is a crucial contest for both the Alouettes and the Argos

MONCTON, N.B.—The CFL makes its return to Atlantic Canada Sunday for the first time since 2013 when the Montreal Alouettes will face the Toronto Argonauts at Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium.

It is the fourth time Moncton will host the regular-season game dubbed Touchdown Atlantic on the campus of the University of Moncton.

This year’s game is sponsored by Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE), the business group trying to land a CFL franchise in Halifax. It’s seen as a chance to showcase the league while gauging fan support in the Maritimes.

“I love it, I really do,” said Alouettes head coach Khari Jones, who previously took part in a Touchdown Atlantic game with Hamilton as an assistant coach in 2011. “It was great to see another part of Canada and to be a part of bringing the CFL out here.”

The game is shaping up as a crucial one for both clubs.

The Als are 4-4 after a thrilling 40-34 overtime win in Calgary last week, and the East Division’s second-place team will want to continue its momentum to keep pace with East-leading Hamilton. Montreal has won four of its last six games and will be led by quarterback Vernon Adams, who will be at the helm for the second week in a row.

The Argos, 1-7, just need a win. They are coming off a 41-26 loss to Edmonton last week.

Jones said he wants his team to focus on its opponent. “We don’t really worry about their record,” the Montreal coach said. “They’ve played some tight games and lost them but they’ve beaten a very good Winnipeg team. If we win or if we lose, it will just be us playing and it won’t be a thing where I feel like we had a letdown because of who we are playing.”

Toronto head coach Corey Chamblin was succinct when asked what his team needed to do.

“Win,” he chuckled. “I’ve seen a lot of growth and improvement in our football team. We’ve gotten a lot better in different areas. Now it’s time to put it all together and be better in the second half of the season.”

McLeod Bethel-Thompson will get the start at quarterback for the Argos, although Chamblin said he also expects to use James Franklin at the pivot spot.

Veteran Toronto receiver S.J. Green, who needs just 49 yards to move up to 23rd among the league’s all-time receiving leaders, believes the team is close to turning things around, but stresses things have to change soon.

“I feel like we have been in games this year where we’ve allowed ourselves to lose the game as opposed to taking opportunities to win it. I do feel like we’re close, but close doesn’t do us anything unless it’s a win”

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The Argos will have to contend with Montreal’s league-leading ground attack, which is expected to get a boost with the return of running back William Stanback, who missed two games due to injury.

The Als average 143.6 yards per game on the ground and Stanback is third in league rushing. Stanback does not expect to start.

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