Wednesday, December 1

Alouettes Stanback, Ménard Finalists for Best CFL Awards

“This is an award that is generally given to quarterbacks,” says running back Stanback. “It means a lot that a runner can go this far.”

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In a league known for passing and driven by quarterback play, William Stanback is trying to reverse that trend.

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On Thursday, the Alouettes running back was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Nominated Player in the Eastern Division. And he will face a quarterback, Zach Collaros of Winnipeg, a finalist in the West Division.

“This is an award that is generally given to quarterbacks,” Stanback said. “It means a lot that a runner can go this far and be a finalist. I’m getting the recognition that I felt I deserve. “

Stanback will be joined at the Dec. 10 ceremony in Hamilton, during Gray Cup week, by Als defensive end David Ménard, the division’s finalist as Outstanding Canadian. The other finalist in the category, BC linebacker Bo Lokombo, is a former Alouette.

Stanback was the league’s leading running back this season. Despite playing only 12 of the Alouettes’ 14 games, he had a career-best 1,176 yards, more than 300 yards ahead of his closest competitor. Stanback rushed for more than 100 yards six times, including a season-high 203 yards against Toronto on Oct. 22. That tied his career record in a single game.

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Stanback returned to the Als this season after trying out with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. Both parents died within days of each other, forcing him to leave training camp, which could have prompted the team’s decision to release him. .

“He’s a big guy who runs well,” said André Bolduc, the Als assistant head coach and Stanback position coach. “It is impressive to see what he does on a daily basis in practice. Then he does it in games. I’m very impressed. He does some things you can’t teach and is down to earth. He is not overwhelmed by anything.

“He is a hard worker who wants to be better.”

Stanback is trying to become the first Alouette since quarterback Anthony Calvillo, in 2008 and 2009, was named a CFL Outstanding Player. While Hamilton catcher Brandon Banks got the award in 2019, the previous four winners were all quarterbacks.

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Collaros finished just behind BC’s Michael Reilly among quarterbacks this season, passing for 3,185 yards and 20 league-leading touchdowns. He was intercepted only six times while completing 70.2 percent of his shots.

Alouettes defensive end David Menard, left, with Alexandre Dupuis in practice, is a division finalist for the CFL Canadian Outstanding Award.
Alouettes defensive end David Menard, left, with Alexandre Dupuis in practice, is a division finalist for the CFL Canadian Outstanding Award. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

Ménard had eight sacks, the best of his career. The Chicoutimi native, who signed as a free agent after six seasons with the Lions, added 18 tackles and forced two fumbles. If Ménard went unnoticed in BC, he is finally being recognized.

“I am part of a team that trusts me,” he said. “We are in a good rotation, so we are always fresh. I’m always rushing and running towards the ball. I feel like I can play freely, without worry. I am not stressed in the field.

“It means a lot after all the sacrifice and hard work, the lows I’ve been through. It just feels good that it wasn’t in vain. It feels good, and I’ll bring it up for my next contract negotiation. “

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Greg Quick, the Als’ defensive line coach, has always been on Ménard’s corner, describing him as a consummate professional.

“The greatest attribute of a successful person is perseverance,” Quick explained. “He brings it to life. Play to every ounce of your skill and strength. Anyone who can work, sustain and persist deserves this kind of recognition. “

Former Als Hénoc Muamba middle linebacker, now with Toronto, was the league’s top Canadian in 2019.

Rounding out the shortlist: Simoni Lawrence of Hamilton and Adam Bighill of Winnipeg (defensive); Brandon Revenberg of Hamilton and Stanley Bryant of Winnipeg (offensive lineman); Ottawa’s DeVonte Dedmon and Calgary’s Rene Paredes (special teams); Toronto’s Peter Nicastro and BC’s Jordan Williams (rookie). The finalists for Coach of the Year are Mike O’Shea from Winnipeg and Ryan Dinwiddie from Toronto.

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Meanwhile, the Als could be without catcher Eugene Lewis (hip) and point guard Philippe Gagnon (calf) for Sunday’s division semifinal in Hamilton.

Also Thursday, the league announced that 95 percent of its players will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 1. Of the 42,000 tests administered to soccer coaches, players and operations personnel this season, only 34 tested positive for a negative test rate. 99.92 percent.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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