RED and BLACK against ALS: “It’s us against them… and I take us every time”

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MONTREAL — Patrick Levels has fond memories of his two seasons in the CFL in Montreal.

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He lived downtown in a condo next to the Bell Center. He learned a bit of French to help him get through. And, assuming a starting role after two seasons in Calgary, he became a very good defensive back/starting linebacker with the Alouettes.

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So he looks forward to the Thanksgiving game at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. But Monday isn’t so much about seeing old friends and sightseeing, it’s more about trying to help the Ottawa Redblacks get back on track. In their first game under interim head coach Bob Dyce, the team’s special teams coordinator who took over as leader when Paul LaPolice was fired last Saturday, the Redblacks will try to keep their dim playoff hopes. A win over the Alouettes, who they beat 38-24 just over a month ago, would give the Rouge et Noir four wins, one shy of third-placed Hamilton.

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So, yeah, as far-fetched as it sounds, there is still hope for a playoff spot. And sure, Levels has fond memories, but, as they say, there are bigger fish to fry.

“I loved my time in Montreal,” Levels said. “It was my first chance to make a name for myself, a chance to show the fans No. 3 – Pat Levels – would be around for a while. But it’s not something I value every time I play them. I’m glad to see the guys I know are doing well, but it’s us against them. And I take us every time.

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On the home stretch – the Rouge et Noir have two more games to play against Montreal and Hamilton – there will be a lot of scoreboard watching. Ottawa will be watching what Hamilton, Montreal and Saskatchewan, in particular, do for the rest of the season. The Ticats are now two wins ahead of the Rouge et Noir. The Roughriders, who could still qualify for the Eastern Division playoffs, are three wins up, but have only two games left – both against the very strong Calgary Stampeders. A win for Montreal on Monday would secure a playoff berth and home-field advantage for the Alouettes. A loss to Ottawa wouldn’t eliminate the Redblacks, but it would drop their postseason hopes from slim to slim.

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Defensive back Sherrod Baltimore, who will return from a long absence (hamstring injury) said: “We have to be urgent, it’s Code Red for us right now.

“I was watching the first half (of the Hamilton-Saskatchewan game on Friday) and I was encouraging a tie,” Redblacks quarterback Nick Arbuckle said. “I felt like a tie was probably the best thing that could happen because it prevents (Saskatchewan) from getting another win and it prevents Hamilton from gaining momentum to win another game. If you look at the standings and see what works, the best chance for us to make the playoffs in the position we’re in is to make sure there are three Eastern teams that go to the playoffs That forces Saskatchewan to keep going to lose (Hamilton won 18-14) – (Friday) was good for us in that regard – but we still have to take care of business over the next four weeks or else everyone’s games won’t really matter .”

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“You focus on yourself, but I’d be lying if I said we don’t pay attention to these other teams,” Levels said. “These games affect you now, your opportunity could be taken away by someone else. You don’t have control, that’s what we wanted to avoid. All you can do is make sure you winning your games If we don’t do our job, nothing that others do really matters.

It’s been tough for Ottawa to score touchdowns over the past few weeks, in fact, for much of the season. Since winning in Montreal in September, Ottawa has scored three touchdowns in three games. Against the Alouettes last time out, the Rouge et Noir scored three touchdowns, but one of them was on their defense on a Montreal fumble. Arbuckle had 313 passing yards. And, in that game, Ottawa forced four turnovers. This is the kind of effort that is still needed on Monday.

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“We should score more runs,” Redblacks receiver Darvin Adams said. “We should move the ball more. We should be more of an exciting attack. This is what we are working towards every week. Sometimes it doesn’t work the way we want it to. Right now we are focused on being better. The mood is focused on Monday; guys all understand that. One game at a time and let’s see where it leads.

THE END AROUND: Some changes in the Rougenoirs line up: C Darius Ciraco, DB Sherrod Baltimore and RB William Powell return. Patrick Nelson starts at WILL LB with LB Frankie Griffin on the six-game injured list. DL Davon Coleman, RB Devonte Williams and OL Ucambre Williams are also on the six-game list. DL Will Kiely enters matchday roster; he is listed as a replacement for Cleyon Laing. LB Adam Auclair also returns… Former Redblacks DBs Ranthony Texada and Treshaun Abrahams-Webster are on Montreal’s training roster, along with OL Jamar McGloster. OL Philippe Gagnon and DL Mike Wakefield are on the injured list for one match.

  1. Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris (7) crosses the line of scrimmage during the first half of a game against the Rouge et Noir on July 21.  The teams will meet in Montreal on Monday afternoon.

    ICE CREAM AND PIZZA: The Rouge et Noir hope practice battles will lead to hard work against the Alouettes

  2. Redblacks offensive consultant Doug Malone worked with general manager Shawn Burke in Hamilton and interim head coach Bob Dyce in Saskatchewan.

    REDBLACKS PRACTICE CHANGES: Malone quits retirement, Arndt gets ahead with playcalling

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