The game will of course come down to the players who are on the field, but longtime football fans will be intrigued, too, by the matchup on the sidelines.
Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, who was a longtime coach of the V.I. Raiders and led the team to all three of its national championships, is making his return to the gridiron in Nanaimo, now as coach of the Langley Rams.
The Raiders and Rams play this Saturday, Aug. 18, at Caledonia Park.
“The chance to come back to Nanaimo and come back to Caledonia, I think, is really cool,” Blokker said. “I obviously spent many hours on Caledonia field and a lot of games, so I’m excited to come back and compete.”
That said, this Saturday’s game isn’t any kind of “grudge match,” he said. He coached the Calgary Colts in between his B.C. Football Conference coaching tenures, and the only guys he knows on the Raiders are on the coaching staff.
“I think there’s so much time that has gone past that it’s not really even anything that I’m really concerned with,” he said.
He isn’t using his Raiders connection to motivate the Rams, he said, because “that’s an individual thing – it’s got nothing to do with this team.”
The Raiders look at it at the same way, said Doug Hocking, who was Blokker’s defensive coordinator for all three national championship teams.
“The media and the BCFC and everybody, they can make a big deal out of it,” Hocking said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be a football game, it’s still 60 minutes long and there’s still offence and defence and special teams and we just have to go out there and execute. It really doesn’t matter who’s on the other sideline.”
He said he knows that Blokker is meticulous with game preparation, but said the Raiders are, too.
“I think there’s some things we can take advantage of offensively and defensively and I think it’s going to come down to playing physical football and not making mistakes,” Hocking said.
Blokker said for the Rams, it’s about playing their system and being ready to compete against the Raiders.
“I know that they’re going to come out and physically challenge us, so we have to be ready for that physical challenge and then do what we do best,” he said.
GAME ON … The Raiders and Rams play Saturday, Aug. 18 at 2:30 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Tickets will be available at the gate.
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