Montreal Loses 2021 Leading Rusher to Injury in Week 1
William Stanback had set himself apart in the CFL. In 2019 he was third in total rushing yards, while playing in just 14 out of 18 total games.
He was bested by two of the more established veteran backs in the league. Andrew Harris had 1,373 yards in 16 games, while William Powell, now back in Ottawa, had 1,097 yards in all 18 games. Stanback was able to amass 171 carries for 1,051 yards or 6.14 yards per carry.
He was able to rack up an average of 75 yards per game also good for third behind only Andrew Harris, and Cameron Marshall who played in just four games. Riding this momentum into the 2021 season following the covid cancellation in 2020, most of us expected a break out performance by Stanback.
2021 Rushing Yards Leader
In 2021 Stanback returned with a vengeance. Again resigning to remain in Montreal, knowing he would be again paired with extremely talented wide receivers, and a solid young quarterback the team was beginning to lean on more in Vernon Adams.
This roster talent, and Stanback’s drive to be the best led him to his true break out season. A year after producing 1,051 yards in 14 games, he would again miss a couple games. This time he played in just 12 games out of 14 in the shortened 2021 season. Yet he led the league by over 300 yards rushing.
Atop the rushing leader chart was Stanback’s 193 carries for 1,176 yards, 6 yard per carry average, and 3 touchdowns. In second place, some 307 yards below Stanback was Kadeem Carey. Carey had 869 yards on 164 carries, and averaged .7 yards per carry less than Stanback.
After just two seasons in the CFL, Stanback had proven he belonged on the list of the top three running backs in the league, and you could even make a very valid argument that his name belonged at the top of that list.
2022 Brings Disappointment
In the 2022 season, the Montreal Alouettes focused again on resigning the all-pro level talent they had on their own roster. Returning guys like Jake Weineke, Eugene Lewis, and QB Vernon Adams. Stanback had signed a two year deal the year before meaning Montreal would return the vast majority of the starting offense in 2022.
In week 1 they were slated to face the Calgary Stampeders. The Stampeders have shown themselves to be a worthy foe in the past, but this game felt like Montreal’s to lose. Lose they would. Following just 3 carries for 11 yards, William Stanback laid on the turf obviously in pain.
The trainers rush out onto the field and after a brief look at him realize he will not be able to return to the game. He is removed from the field of play, and taken to the locker room. It wouldn’t take long for news to break that Stanback had suffered a fractured ankle on the play.
His back-up Jeshrun Antwi is a Canadian National player. Formerly a 6th round pick in the 2019 draft, the Ghana Born running back has been with Montreal his entire career. He has the build to be a bell-cow back in the CFL. At 6’0 220 pounds, he will be asked to carry the load until Stanback can return from injury, which may not be until the 2023 season depending on how his rehab goes.