There will be championship-calibre football at Caledonia Park this weekend.
The V.I. Raiders take on the Langley Rams on Saturday (Oct. 19) for the Cullen Cup, the B.C. Football Conference’s top prize.
“The speed we’re playing right now and the intensity we’re playing right now is the best it’s been all season…” said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, V.I. coach. “We’ve got to continue that … and be the best Raider team all year.”
Nanaimo and Langley met three times this season, with the men in black winning twice. But both teams will remember that it was the Rams that came into Caledonia and captured the cup one year ago.
Blokker said his team definitely thinks back to that loss and uses it as inspiration, to some extent.
“That’s a good story to write about,” he said. “But when the first whistle blows, it’s new players, a new year, new strategy, new coaches, new everything.”
Blokker scouted the Rams’ 24-13 victory over the Okanagan Sun this past weekend in Kelowna, and saw the Langley offence having success with its ground game.
“If they’re running the ball well on first down, they’re going to get some second-and-fives, second-and-sixes and you’ve still got to protect the run,” he said. “When we do get them in second-and-long, we’ve got to get them off the field.”
Langley’s defence is led by defensive lineman, Evan Foster, a former Raider who had nearly twice as many sacks as any other player in the BCFC. He will take away time and space from V.I. quarterbacks Jaeden Marwick and Jahmari Bennett, so the Raiders’ offensive line will need to be aware of the pressure and double-team Foster when possible.
“Then we’ve got to go to our hot game,” Blokker said. “One step and three steps and get rid of the football.”
Saturday’s victor gets to hoist the trophy, and also advances to the national semifinal in Ontario. So this weekend’s game is one last chance to cheer on the Raiders at Caledonia, one last chance to lend a voice to the V.I. cause.
“The Rams are going to come over here with a full bus of fans and they’re going to get rowdy in our park. So we have to have huge support this Saturday,” Blokker said. “We have to have a loud, crazy group and make sure it’s a home game for us.”
GAME ON … The Raiders and Rams kick off Saturday at 1 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Tickets cost $15 or $12 for seniors and children and will be available at the gate or in advance at Palladian Developments or Elite Image.