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Lemon-less Alouettes put undefeated record on the line versus Stampeders


MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes will look to remain undefeated without a key piece on their defensive line.

The CFL announced on Thursday that Montreal star defensive lineman Shawn Lemon's suspension for allegedly gambling on sports in 2021 was reinstated. The news came as the Alouettes (4-0) prepared to take on the Calgary Stampeders (2-1) at Percival Molson Stadium on Saturday night.

However, Montreal head coach Jason Maas is confident in whoever is tasked with stepping into Lemon’s shoes in the meantime.

“You gotta have a certain ability, a certain toughness and a certain effort to play on our team on defence, and when you have those attributes, the expectation is you can go in there and play,” Maas said.

“We’ve been able to do that very successfully because of the way we coach it, the way our guys play it, and it’s a group effort.”

Maas chose not to comment on the situation itself after practice on Thursday, but general manager Danny Maciocia questioned the timing of the decision.

“I don’t condone what took place, there’s no place for that, let me make that crystal clear,” Maciocia said. “What’s bothersome, I will admit, is that we’re three years removed — three teams removed — and it just happens to pop up at the beginning of the year.”

Lemon was originally suspended on April 24, but an appeal allowed him to play for the Alouettes until the scheduled arbitration hearing on Friday. His suspension will be upheld until Aug. 1-2, when a final decision will be taken on the 35-year-old’s fate.

Lemon, a 13-year CFL veteran and three-time Grey Cup champion, has been instrumental to Montreal’s undefeated start to the year, racking up six tackles and a sack.

While Montreal will have to get creative with its defensive personnel in Lemon’s absence, it was the offence that witnessed the emergence of an unsung hero in a 30-20 win over the Toronto Argonauts last week.

Third-year receiver Cole Spieker caught eight passes for 113 yards, marking the fourth time an Alouettes receiver has tallied over 100 receiving yards in a game this season.

Despite the limited playing time before his breakout performance, Spieker says he’s always ready to go out and make a difference when his number is called.

“I’m just glad that I was able to make the plays that were called upon me and that my coaches trust me,” the 27-year-old told reporters. “We’re super deep at receiver and we’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays and step up each gameday.”

The Alouettes boast the CFL’s most potent offence so far this season, putting up a total of 127 points through four games. Spieker credits the tight knit group for their ability to work together to put points on the board.

“We’re just building on our chemistry together and working together,” he said. “We just bounce off each other’s confidence and step up when our number is called.”

Montreal now turns its attention to the Stampeders, who travel to Quebec fresh off a 22-19 overtime win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Calgary general manager and head coach Dave Dickenson is embracing the challenge of facing the defending Grey Cup champs and top-ranked team this early in the season.

“We know it’s a big challenge, but it’s something we’re looking forward to,” Dickenson told reporters in Calgary on Wednesday. “It’s gonna be tough, we get it, but we do want that challenge.

"We want to see how good this team can be and we want to see if we can go out there and get a win.”


Saturday, Percival Molson Stadium

HOME SWEET HOME: After playing three of their first four games of the season on the road, the Alouettes will kick off a three-game homestand on Saturday. Montreal routed the Ottawa Redblacks 47-21 in its only home game this year.

BROTHERLY RIVALRY: Saturday's contest will mark the first time the Philpot brothers will face off against each other in the CFL. Twins Tyson and Jalen — both wide receivers — were drafted in 2022, but Jalen has missed all three opportunities he’s had so far to suit up against Montreal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2024.