Raiders beat Rebels to finish undefeated
To view a slideshow of photos from Saturday's game, please click here.
The V.I. Raiders completed an undefeated season and look poised for playoffs.
Nanaimo's Canadian Junior Football League team dominated the Westshore Rebels by a 57-7 score on Saturday at Caledonia Park to end the regular season.
"It was good," said Mike Schaper, who caught four touchdown passes for the Raiders. "We came out motivated, we came out ready to play and we came out and stuck together as a family."
The Raiders accomplished a lot of their goals in the game. They were able to move the ball with both the run game and the pass game and on defence they mostly stymied the Rebels' star tailback Greg Morris.
"We played one of our most complete games, regardless of the scoreboard," said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, Raiders coach.
Jordan Yantz threw five touchdown passes and backup quarterback J.J. Mraovic threw two more in mercy time.
Schaper's third and fourth touchdowns, in particular, were highlight-reel grabs. After two 10-yard TD catches in the first half, Schaper scored a 64-yard major to start the second half, ricocheting off would-be tacklers. Then, with three minutes to go in the game, Schaper stretched out to catch a long bomb from Mraovic, stumbled to keep his balance, and eluded tacklers to dive into the corner of the endzone for a 72-yard major.
"Everyone has to make plays, so it was my turn to make plays," Schaper said.
Dustin Pedersen had two touchdown catches and Matt Sawyer caught Nanaimo's other touchdown. Yantz finished 14-for-24 for 226 yards.
Also contributing offensively was Mark Mueller, who kicked two field goals and made seven converts to win the B.C. Football Conference scoring title. He ends up with 105 points in 2012, surpassing Morris.
Westshore's Morris had gone into the game needing 122 yards for a BCFC rushing record, but got 56 yards.
"We knew they were going to feed him the rock and our defence stepped up and shut down a great player so it played into our game plan," Schaper said.
Blokker said the Raiders' defence led the way with its run stopping.
"All week we had that challenge in front of us to stop that guy and I believe we met the challenge all the way around," he said.
Even Nanaimo's offence was motivated on that front.
"We were moving the chains; we weren't too worried about getting the ball down the field right off the bat," said Yantz. "We were worried about working the clock and getting first downs and sustaining a drive and keeping Greg Morris off the field."
Cole Bishop, Raiders defensive back, said his team's defence has developed chemistry at the right time.
"We're all together now and we can flow as one unit…" he said. "Everybody's locked into their positions and everybody's starting to get a feel for one another."
The Raiders feel like they were able to keep up their tempo, their physicality and their intensity even in a mercy-rule shortened game.
"It was a very synergetic win," Schaper said. "We came together as a team and played all facets, all cylinders firing. It's a good thing to take away from the last regular-season game."
GRID BITS … Jaxxen Wylie had an interception for the Raiders, as did Kurtis Bardua, the backup quarterback-turned-defensive back. Shane Stonehouse had a sack, Quinton Clarke and Elliot Jones recovered fumbles and Jon Jones had a team-high five tackles … As expected, Yantz set the Canadian Junior Football League record for career passing yards. He needed 14 to break the record and got exactly that distance on his first throw of the game, a completion to Whitman Tomusiak. Yantz also set the BCFC record for completion percentage in a season … Schaper may fall just short of the BCFC record for career receiving yards. He had 155 yards on Saturday which takes him to 3,024 for his career. Matt Scheurwater of the Okanagan Sun is listed in the BCFC record book with 3,034, but the CJFL record book has Scheurwater with 3,019 … The Raiders kick off the 2012 playoffs on Saturday (Oct. 20) as the Okanagan Sun visit Caledonia Park. Game time is 1 p.m. … In other BCFC action Saturday, the Langley Rams dominated the Okanagan Sun 48-6 at the Apple Bowl and the Chilliwack Huskers won their first game of the season 17-10 over the Kamloops Broncos in the Fraser Valley.