V.I. Raiders win B.C. championship
The V.I. Raiders reign over the B.C. Football Conference once again.
Nanaimo's Canadian Junior Football League team dominated the Langley Rams 44-0 on Saturday at Caledonia Park, raised the Cullen Cup, and extended its dynasty to six straight provincial championships.
"When you play a championship game and you win it in the fashion we did, with the score we did, then you make a statement," said Matthew "Snoop" Blokker, Raiders coach. "We're not ready to hand that trophy over yet. That's ours and we're going to fight harder than anybody for it."
If the Rams came into the game with momentum from their upset victory in the semifinals, the Raiders squished it right away.
After an interception at midfield a minute and a half into the game, the Raiders offence went down the field and scored a touchdown, with quarterback Jordan Yantz running in from a yard out.
"We came out fired up and then the game just took over itself," said Glenn Boyce, V.I. linebacker.
The Raiders added three more second-quarter TDs including 11-yard and 20-yard strikes to Andrew Smith and another one-yard keeper from Yantz.
The second half was nearly as one-sided. The Raiders turned turnovers into points, with Mark Mueller kicking three field goals and Yantz connecting with Whitman Tomusiak on a 10-yard TD.
"We played with our hearts on our sleeves today," said Tyler Oldendorf, Raiders offensive lineman. "We knew we had to come out, we had to ball out and we just had to give it our all."
Yantz said the Raiders won in all three phases of the game, and started winning those battles right from opening kickoff to get some points on the board quickly.
"If you do that and keep on doing it and the defence keeps shutting them out, then they start to sink real quick and then they start playing scared," said the QB.
The Raiders' special teams rose to the occasion against the league's Outstanding Special Teams Player. Langley's Nick Downey only got a chance to field two kicks and two punts for a total of 56 yards.
"He got nothing really and wasn't able to give his team a spark," said Blokker.
Instead, Mueller got the Special Teams Player of the Game award for going 3-for-3 on field goals; Yantz was chosen Offensive Player of the Game with a 14-for-22, 216-yard, three-TD effort and Teddy Ash was selected Defensive Player of the Game on the strength of six tackles and two sacks.
Right after the presentation of those plaques, the Raiders got Saturday's big prize – the Lorne Cullen Cup.
"It feels absolutely fantastic," Yantz said. "To host it here and to hoist the trophy at centre field feels great for us."
After passing around the trophy, the Raiders continued their tradition of bringing the booty to the pirate ship in the corner of the field.
"It's a lot of fun to be out here with your boys that you spent the whole season with and to win together, it's just great…" Boyce said. "We're just getting started. This is the first of three championship games and we're looking to get back to work on Tuesday. We've got bigger goals planned."
GRID BITS … Botel rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries and Mike Schaper was the top receiver with four catches for 102 yards. Defensively, Jon Jones led the Raiders with seven tackles. Evan Foster had four, plus a sack, and Miguel Miranda also had a sack. Cole Bishop and Ariel Fabbro had fumble recoveries and Adam Laurensse and Boyce were credited with interceptions … For the Rams, Kyle Albertini rushed for 142 yards on 11 carries and Downey had two catches for 55 yards. Langley QBs Jon Roney and Brandon Leyh were a combined 5-for-21 for 74 yards … Immediately after Saturday's win, Blokker and his offensive coordinator Daryl Rodgers flew out to the Prairies to scout the Saskatoon Hilltops' 32-3 win over the Calgary Colts in the Prairie Football Conference championship. The Intergold Cup, pitting the Raiders against the Hilltops, will be Saturday (Oct. 29) at 1 p.m. at Caledonia Park.