Alouettes racer Stanback uses the season finale to hit top speed

“I feel like I’m getting there little by little,” he says of facing Argos in the fourth game since returning from a broken ankle.

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TORONTO — Given his preferences, Danny Maciocia would have preferred to play for first place in the Eastern Division.

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But the Alouettes’ general manager and interim head coach has always been a glass-half-full guy. Don’t tell Saturday’s regular season finale against Toronto at BMO Field (14:00, TSN1, TSN4, RDS, TSN Radio-690, 98.5 FM) It doesn’t make sense because it won’t affect the ranking.

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“It’s a game and we have to take this profession seriously,” Maciocia said. “We have to take our opponent seriously. We cannot disrespect the game. We go down there with the intention of winning. We may not go with certain players, but we’re pretty confident with the ones that make the trip. We believe that they will be able to act. Hopefully that will be good enough to win us a game.”

Rested veterans include quarterback Trevor Harris, receivers Eugene Lewis and Jake Wieneke, guard Kristian Matte, defensive tackle Almondo Sewell, middle linebacker Micah Awe and cornerback Nafees Lyon. Quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson will not play for the Argonauts, who have clinched first in the division. A victory in Montreal would give him a 9-9 record.

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Dominique Davis starts at quarterback for Montreal. Rookie Davis Alexander is expected to play the second half.

The Als haven’t had a bye week on the schedule since September and played twice in Ottawa in five days. This will be their sixth straight game without a break.

“This will recharge not only their bodies but also their minds, knowing that hopefully we’re going to have a three-game streak after this game,” Maciocia said. “Go out and finish the regular season strong, on a positive note. Make sure we have some kind of momentum heading into the playoffs.”

The Als host Hamilton in the division semifinal on Nov. 6. The winner travels to Toronto a week later with a spot in the November 20 Gray Cup at stake.

Given the size of the CFL rosters, Maciocia couldn’t rest everyone. One veteran eager to play is running back William Stanback. This marks his fourth game since he returned from a broken ankle. He and Maciocia agreed on the importance of him playing, given the circumstances.

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“That was the whole goal when I came back: finish the games that I can play,” Stanback said. “We have this opportunity in the playoffs with a home game. I want to keep getting my feet wet, keeping the ball rolling, so I can be ready for Game 1 (of the playoffs).”

Stanback’s workload has steadily increased from game to game. In last Saturday’s one-point loss to Toronto, he had 10 carries for 65 yards. Stanback must recapture last season’s form (he was the league’s best running back and the division’s finalist for most outstanding player) for Montreal to have an extended playoff run.

“I want to play as much as I can to get back up there with my teammates and (be able to) run at full speed,” he said. “I feel like little by little I am getting there. That’s why I feel like my playing is the right thing to do.

“I feel great and I’m getting a lot closer to myself,” Stanback added. “My confidence is continually growing and I feel great out there. The pain is gone, although there is still a slight soreness after (repeated) days of work.”

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