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09/19/2014 06:10 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:02 EDT

Alouettes hope to live up to legends' standards against first-place Stampeders

MONTREAL - The Montreal Alouettes' storied past will be feted but a reminder of their mortality awaits on the field when they face the first-place Calgary Stampeders.

The Alouettes (3-8) host Calgary (10-1) in the Hall of Fame game Sunday afternoon at Percival Molson Stadium.

Three former Alouettes — receiver Ben Cahoon, offensive tackle Uzooma Okeke and linebacker/punter Wally Buono, now the B.C. Lions vice-president and GM — are among seven who'll be inducted in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame this weekend.

"The good thing is we're at home and hopefully we can feed off the crowd and the Hall of Fame game and keep it simple, get first downs and then rely on our defence and get a win," said Alouettes offensive lineman Josh Bourke.

Buono won three Grey Cups as Calgary's head coach from 1990 to 2002 so the Stampeders will have some of their own history at the game as well.

Calgary beat Montreal 29-8 in the season opener for both teams June 28 at McMahon Stadium. But the Stampeders will be minus some key pieces in the rematch, including quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, running back Jon Cornish, receiver Marquay McDaniel and rush end Charleston Hughes.

All were injured in last week's 40-33 victory over the Toronto Argonauts, a game that saw Calgary rally from a 26-point deficit. But the Stampeders' offence didn't miss a beat in the second half when Drew Tate went in after Mitchell suffered knee and ankle injuries.

Cornish rushed for 174 yards in that game won't play Sunday due to nagging injuries unrelated to the concussion that forced him to miss time in July and August.

The Alouettes don't expect their opponents to be very much different from usual, however.

"They had some injuries last week and their quarterback's banged up, but Drew Tate has a lot of experience in the CFL so it's not going to get any easier," said Bourke. "They do a good job of rolling the next guy in if someone goes down.

"They always have quality backups. So it's going to be a challenge."

The Stampeders lead the CFL in scoring (332 points), touchdowns (34), first downs (239) and net yards gained (4,083).

Montreal, whose offence stalled this season with the retirement of all-time passing leader Anthony Calvillo, leads only the expansion Ottawa Redblacks in those categories.

Calvillo, whose No. 13 jersey will be retired later this season, was the kingpin of Montreal teams on which Cahoon and Okeke both flourished. The diminutive Cahoon was Calvillo's most trusted receiver with 1,017 career catches for 13,301 yards.

"He had amazing hands but the thing that comes to mind is toughness," receiver Eric Deslauriers said of 42-year-old Cahoon, who retired in 2011. "He'd catch about 15 balls a game and I think he got lit up 14 times a game.

"He always found a way to get hit hard, but he'd just bounce back up. He was probably the strongest receiver in the lineup and he was about 175 pounds."

Okeke, 44, joined Montreal in 1996 and was a six-time CFL all-star before retiring in 2006. He is now the team's football operations assistant and a scout.

Buono won two Cups as an Alouette from 1972 to 1981. He went on to post a record 254 regular-season wins as a coach in Calgary and B.C. He will go into the Hall as a builder.

Alouettes coach Tom Higgins faced Buono, both as a player and coach.

"Three well deserved nominations," said Higgins.

Also to be inducted are former Ottawa offensive lineman and kicker Moe Racine, running backs Charles Roberts and Neil Lumsden and former Western Mustangs head coach Larry Haylor.

The unveiling of the busts will be held Saturday with the inductees will honoured Sunday at the game.

But the game has plenty of importance for Montreal, which enters weekend action tied for first in the East with Hamilton and Toronto. Still, it's a strange position for the Alouettes to be in given the franchise has traditionally been a conference powerhouse, appearing in eight Grey Cup games since its relocation from Baltimore in 1996.

Buono was a part of the franchise's greatness before '96 while both Cahoon and Okeke were integral members of its success following its return.

"In my mind, the beasts of the East are always here," said Deslauriers, who will sit out with an injury. "I still think we can get there.

"We are getting better and we're doing the right things. It's maybe not the best season for the Montreal Alouettes, but we're still working hard every day to get to where we need to be and where we used to be."

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