Sports

V.I. Raiders climbing hill

V.I. Raiders kick returner Taylor Flavel, front, straight-arms a Chilliwack Huskers opponent as part of a highlight-reel 60-yard punt return on Saturday at Caledonia Park. The Raiders are at home again this Saturday (Oct. 1). - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
V.I. Raiders kick returner Taylor Flavel, front, straight-arms a Chilliwack Huskers opponent as part of a highlight-reel 60-yard punt return on Saturday at Caledonia Park. The Raiders are at home again this Saturday (Oct. 1).
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

The V.I. Raiders are making their ascent toward the top of the junior football heap.

The schedule makers set things up ideally for Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team – the Raiders (8-0) play a pretty good Langley Rams team (4-4) on Saturday (Oct. 1), play the contending Okanagan Sun in the regular-season finale, then kick off the playoffs.

There, the Raiders hope to move on to meet other elite teams from across Canada. They are already comparing themselves with the best teams from around the country, said Steve Pennell, offensive lineman.

“Our level of competition is going to increase every week…” he said. “If we know our assignments and we practise executing our plays, no matter what is in front of us, we will be successful when we play those teams at that high level.”

Ashton Galloway, Raiders fullback, said it’s OK to look ahead on the schedule as long as the focus stays on the task at hand. But as the Raiders have repeated all season long, they care more about their own game than their opponent, anyway.

“We just go out and execute and put up points as much as we can,” Galloway said. “As long as we can stick to that I think we’ll be OK. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”

This week, it’s the Rams. Langley has qualified for the playoffs and will be a degree of difficulty higher than the teams Nanaimo squashed the last two weeks.

“Definitely,” said Teddy Ash, Raiders defensive end. “The Rams are always a tougher team, a bigger, harder-banging team. So I think we’ve just got to play Raider football, work hard all week and win it here during the week.”

The V.I. team will study film, talk about adjustments and go over a game plan, said Ash, as usual.

“But really it just comes down to us playing hard-nosed football and being the bully and taking over the game,” he said.

GAME ON … The Raiders and Rams play Saturday at 1 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Tickets will be available at the gate.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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