Sports

V.I. Raiders looking for more against Valley

After a big win, then a bye week, the Raiders are back.

Nanaimo’s V.I. Raiders step back on the field this Saturday (Sept. 6) to take on the Valley Huskers at Caledonia Park.

Raiders coach Brian Ridgeway said the bye came at a perfect time after a “gruelling” first half of the season that saw them play first-place Okanagan twice and second-place Langley twice and survive with a 2-3 record.

And V.I. didn’t just survive – its last game was a 52-44 upset over Langley that has the team energized for the second half of the regular season.

“It really strengthens the team,” said Josh Paisley, V.I. defensive back. “You’re working so hard and it’s nice to see results.”

Offensive lineman Ryan Dekker said the win “brought us closer together as a family, and there’s nothing better than that kind of feeling.”

It makes the Raiders hungry to keep winning, and they will be favoured against the winless Huskers.

“We are going to score early and score often and we’re going to get more excited on the sideline,” Dekker said. “We saw that in the Langley game, when everybody on the sideline was getting excited, it really fuelled the fire for the players on the field.”

That energy helps with consistency and focus, which Ridgeway said are two priorities of the coaching staff.

“Regardless of what position we are in the game, what the score is, we have to focus on that play, do our jobs,” he said.

The Raiders don’t expect they’ll need more than their “base stuff” to beat the Huskers.

“It gives us a chance to rep it to perfection,” Ridgeway said. “Guys can really focus in on the details and make sure we’re assignment-sharp all the way through.”

GAME ON … The Raiders and Huskers kick off at 3 p.m. Saturday at Caledonia Park. Tickets, $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students, will be available at the gate.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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