J.J. Mraovic

J.J. Mraovic

Former Sun star joins V.I. Raiders

Nanaimo's Canadian Junior Football League team added former Okanagan Sun quarterback J.J. Mraovic over the bye week.

The V.I. Raiders have a new safety who is also a safety net.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team added former Okanagan Sun quarterback J.J. Mraovic over the bye week.

Mraovic, who was second in the B.C. Football Conference in passing yards and touchdowns in 2011 behind the Raiders’ Jordan Yantz, played his first game with his new team Saturday in an 85-0 win over the Chilliwack Huskers at Caledonia Park. Mraovic donned the Raiders’ home black uniform, wearing No. 14, and lined up as starting safety.

He had been released by the Sun on the eve of the season; the club cited personal reasons.

“As soon as they cut him, I phoned,” said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, coach and general manager of the Raiders. “I think it took me 30 seconds after I knew he was released.”

Mraovic said his decision-making process took some time.

“If I didn’t go back to the Okanagan Sun, I wanted to go and play football, I wanted to help a football team,” he said. “I told coach Snoop that whatever they needed help with on this football team, put me on the field and I’ll do whatever I can and I’ll do the best that I can for you.”

The 22-year-old former CIS quarterback is in his final year of junior football. He hasn’t played the safety position since he was in peewee, and said it’s an adjustment. The backpedalling required of defensive backs is quite different, he said, from a QB’s dropbacks.

“Learning the defensive playbook, I’m coming along with that, [and] learning more and more about how to be fundamentally sound,” he said.

The Raiders also want Mraovic to start taking practice reps at his natural position.

“[He] gives the Raiders a chance to have the two best quarterbacks in the league on one team,” Blokker said.

But that doesn’t mean Mraovic immediately leapfrogs Kurtis Bardua as the Raiders’ backup QB.

“We’re a ways away from that,” Blokker said. “[Mraovic] needs to play and we’ve got to make a decision whether he can start at safety. If he continues to start at safety then we won’t move him at all. If he can’t start at safety and he’s going to be the backup, then there’s going to be competition between him and Bardua.”

It’s a nice problem for the Raiders to have – a mid-season addition who is so athletic he needs to be on the field somewhere.

“If they would like me to take some reps at quarterback, just in case Jordan Yantz goes down, God forbid, knock on wood, whatever they need me to do here is what I’m going to do,” Mraovic said.

A major bonus of the acquisition, for the Raiders, is the timing – Nanaimo’s next game is in Kelowna, against the Sun. Mraovic said it’s going to be an emotional experience lining up against the Sun, as he has a lot of friends on the team and respect for the organization and coaches.

“Playing there for a full season and being their quarterback and being their leader, I’ll always cherish those moments…” Mraovic said. “You’ve got to move on and that’s just a way of life in football.”

His new team has been very welcoming, he said, from teammates, to coaches, to fans.

“I’ve heard a lot of things about the Raiders organization,” he said. “But coming here and seeing it for myself, it’s a pretty damn good place to be.”

GRID BITS … The Raiders and Sun play Saturday (Sept. 15) in Kelowna at Apple Bowl stadium. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. … The Raiders also re-acquired safety Cole Bishop during the bye week. Bishop was going to play CIS this year, but changed his mind … To read a recap of the Raiders’ 85-0 win over the Chilliwack Huskers on Saturday, please click here.


Just Posted

The Nanaimo Business Awards are accepting nominations now. (Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce image)
Nanaimo Business Awards accepting nominations of worthy winners

This year’s awards aren’t until the fall, but the nomination period ends June 28

Retailers say they’re ready for the ban on single-use plastic checkout bags in Nanaimo when it takes effect July 1. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Retailers report they’re ready for Nanaimo’s single-use checkout bag ban

Business operators say there’s been plenty of time to plan and prepare for bylaw that kicks in July 1

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

Gabriola singer-songwriter Sarah Osborne, Cowichan Valley duo Heartwood, Vancouver singer Kelly Haigh and Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo (clockwise from top-left) are among the performers in this year’s Cultivate Festival. (Photos submitted)
Gabriola Arts Council presents COVID-conscious Cultivate Festival

Theatre, music and art festival returns to Gabriola Island after 2020 hiatus

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomer by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

Most Read