Backin' up Joe

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

From being a major player in the Grey Cup to occupying a spot of grass on the Commonwealth Stadium sidelines for most of tomorrow's game, it has been a quick fall for defensive end Chuck Alston.

After sacking Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo twice in the championship game last year - including once during the final overtime possession - Alston appeared to be a key building block on the defensive line this spring.

In fact, in the four games he dressed for last year, the Eskimos were undefeated.

But with no sacks this year and Joe Montford coming back to town this week, the Eskimo coaching staff has taken Alston out of the starting lineup for tomorrow's game against the B.C. Lions.

The Esks could have taken Andre Sommersell out instead, but chose to let the raw rookie stay.

However, there won't be an upset peep coming out of Alston's mouth.

"It is no problem," he said.

"It's not a surprise (that Montford starts).

"A guy of that calibre comes in, somebody has to go down.

"And why not me," he chuckled.

That kind of genuine attitude is rare in some locker-rooms, but Alston just wants to win.

And he'll still be able to contribute on some special teams plays.

The hulking six-foot-six, 271-pound sophomore is also looking forward to learning from Montford for the rest of the year.

"I was kind of down in the dumps when he left (this spring)," said Alston.

"But now that he's back, I am back in my 'Joe playbook.' "

LUCKY FAN: The 3,346th fan inside Gate 6 at Commonwealth Stadium tomorrow night will become the nine millionth individual to attend a regular season game at the facility and will be in for quite a treat.

That fan will be escorted from the turnstile to field level where the Eskimos will make that person an honorary captain for the game.

LATE HIT: One of the most touching scenes of the year in Eskimoland occurred shortly after practice yesterday when a young pre-school girl quietly walked up to Maciocia and personally thanked the coach for bringing Montford back to the team.

The youngster had attended fan day during training camp and asked Maciocia to re-sign Montford, who had been cut for salary reasons in April.

"Those are the innocent (fans)," said Maciocia.

FINISH LINES: There won't be a case of family feud in the Maciocia home on Sunday, as Portugal didn't advance to the World Cup final, losing 1-0 to France yesterday.

The Eskimo head coach is a huge fan of the Italian squad and his wife is Portuguese.

Earlier in the week Maciocia admitted that an Italy-Portugal final this weekend could practically divide the household.

"I don't know how happy she is, but life is OK for me (now)," quipped Maciocia yesterday.


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