“I love the CFL, I came back for a reason.” Alouettes LB Darnell Sankey Happy to be Back North of the Border

Darnell Sankey’s return to the postseason was a memorable one.

In the Eastern Division Semi-Finals last Saturday, the Montreal Alouette linebacker made an impact with eight tackles, two sacks, and an interception.

The Alouettes picked up a 27-12 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and advanced to the Eastern Final, where they will meet the Toronto Argonauts this weekend.

Sankey joined the Alouettes earlier this summer, marking his third stop in the Canadian Football League after stints with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2022) and Calgary Stampeders (2021).

Earlier this week, the 29-year-old joined Sean Kleisinger on the Sportscage.

Montreal Alouettes linebacker Darnell Sankey, centre, and defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson, left, close in on Edmonton Elks quarterback Tre Ford during second half CFL football action in Edmonton, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

After missing the postseason with the Roughriders, Sankey is happy to be back in the playoff chase.

“To get the opportunity to continue on with the dream of the Grey Cup, we just got to do it.”

He feels it’s essential to maintain the same mindset before a playoff game, even with the higher stakes compared to the regular season.

“You can’t allow yourself to get caught up in the moment,” said the Alouettes linebacker, adding his routine didn’t change leading up to last week’s matchup.

“When it’s go time, it’s go time, your preparation should be the same every game.”

Signing with the Alouettes has paid off for the former NFL linebacker.

“I’m thankful for being part of a team that let’s me do what I got to do and allows me to play my game.”

Familiarity was another reason for the San Jose, California product.

The Alouettes are led by head coach Jason Maas and quarterback Cody Fajardo, who Sankey spent time with in Saskatchewan last season. Shawn Lemon shared a locker room with the linebacker in Calgary.

Sankey also had positive conservations with General Manager Danny Maciocia and Defensive Coordinator Neil Thorpe leading up to his signing with Montreal.

“They told me what I needed to come do.”

Following last season in Saskatchewan, the two-time CFL tackles leader elected to sign with the XFL’s Arlington Renegades during the winter.

While he enjoyed a successful season in Arlington, which included a league championship, Sankey realized after his experience in the XFL that he was better off playing in Canada.

“I love the CFL, I came back for a reason. I love it here, I love the fanbase, the different cities, the stadiums.”

In six games with Montreal, the former Sacramento State Hornet had 31 tackles, with a sack, an interception and forced two fumbles.

The Alouettes will be in tough on Saturday when they travel to Toronto to meet the Argos with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line.

Toronto dominated the regular season, compiling 16 wins, matching the record set by Edmonton in 1989. That season, Edmonton were upset by the Roughriders in the Western Final. Sankey hopes the Alouettes can pull off the feat.

On their way to a divisional title in 2023, the Argos became the first team in CFL history to complete a perfect divisional record with at least ten wins.

Despite the Toronto’s regular season supremacy, Sankey is confident in the Alouette’s chances, especially in a winner-takes-all setting.

“Once we’re in those its 12 on 12 that’s it, there’s no more records, we’re all in the same place now, that’s what beautiful about playoff football, records get erased, now we have a playoff record and we want to go 3-0.”

Toronto and Montreal will off the CFL’s Divisional Finals on Saturday. Following the Eastern Final, the Western Final will take place in Winnipeg at IG Field, with the Blue Bombers hosting the BC Lions (CKRM Pregame begins at 3:30).

The Divisional Final winners will play in the 110th Grey Cup on November 19th at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.

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