Fans at Caledonia Park on Saturday got to see junior football’s highest-scoring team of all time earn another big win.
The V.I. Raiders handled the Langley Rams 56-19, setting a single-season scoring record and setting up the Nanaimo team for its regular-season finale Sunday (Oct. 9) in Kelowna.
The Raiders, already eyeing that game against the Okanagan Sun, were glad they got challenged this past weekend by the Rams.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better test going into next week, playing against a big, physical team like Langley, that was awesome,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach. “I think it brought our game to another level, especially in the second half.”
In the first half, the Rams stuck with the Raiders, even holding a 10-7 lead briefly in the second quarter.
“They certainly woke us up with that,” said Jordan Yantz, Raiders quarterback. “We had to make some adjustments at halftime and we came out in the second half, we went back to the roots and started playing Raider football.”
He said he had way too much going through his head early in the game as he pursued and set the Canadian Junior Football League’s all-time touchdowns record (see below).
“I just needed to calm myself down and go back out there and speed my reads up,” he said.
The Raiders were spot-on to start the game, moving the ball quickly and crisply on their opening drive. Tailback Jordan Botel dragged two Rams tacklers with him into the endzone to open the scoring just three minutes into the game.
Yantz made his record-setting TD pass to Dustin Pedersen to give the Raiders a 14-10 lead, and Yantz and Pedersen connected for another major with 16 seconds left in the first half.
Whitman Tomusiak scored a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown early in the third quarter and Botel made a 50-yard TD run just over a minute later following a Langley fumble. Fullback Ashton Galloway added a 25-yard TD run a minute and a half after that, set up by another Rams fumble.
Blokker said those contributions from the D were huge.
“Once we saw the blood we were a bunch of sharks in the water, going after it,” said the coach. “That starts with our defence and our defence led us today.”
Yantz stayed in the game to start the fourth quarter and promptly avoided a sack, rolled to his left and found Andrew Smith for a 15-yard TD.
Andrew DeLeon returned a punt 88 yards for the Raiders’ final score with two minutes left in the game.
Yantz finished the game 12-for-19 for 244 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Tomusiak was top Raiders receiver with two catches for 98 yards and Botel had 128 yards on 13 carries.
Both the Rams’ touchdowns were throws to their star player Nick Downey, including a 75-yard catch-and-run TD down the far sideline that showcased his elusiveness. But Langley’s one-dimensional attack was also a downfall as Downey fumbled the ball and the Raiders also intercepted balls thrown in his direction.
“They were really looking at Downey there so we were just keeping an eye out for him,” said V.I.’s Adam Laurensse, who had two picks. “I got beat earlier and tried to redeem myself.”
Tremaine Apperley also had an interception. Cole Bishop, Glenn Boyce and Evan Foster had fumble recoveries and Ranji Atwall, Skylor Letcher and Dylan Chapdelaine made five tackles apiece.
Yantz’s TD passes sure add up
Raiders quarterback Jordan Yantz now holds another one of junior football’s most coveted records.
Yantz threw for his 82nd career touchdown pass Saturday in a 56-19 win over the Langley Rams, breaking the old Canadian Junior Football League record of 81 that had stood for more than 25 years.
The historic TD came early in the second quarter on a 32-yard pass to Dustin Pedersen in the endzone. Yantz said a few different receivers wanted to be the guy to catch the record-setting TD.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about all week,” he said. “It’s obviously awesome, so I was pretty excited about it.”
Yantz already holds the B.C. Football Conference’s all-time passing yards record of 7,248 yards and is fourth all-time in the CJFL in that category. The record is 9,370, held by John Makie who played for the Regina Thunder and Victoria Rebels.
V.I. team breaks its own points mark
The 2011 V.I. Raiders are the highest-scoring CJFL team in history, and the season isn’t even over yet. The Raiders’ 56 points on Saturday gave them 516 this season, breaking the old mark of 505 that they set in 2009.
V.I. coach Matthew “Snoop” Blokker credited his offensive coordinator Daryl Rodgers.
“He’s probably the most underrated offensive coordinator in the league. Nobody knows who he is and he just keeps dialling up 500 points every year…” Blokker said. “I really appreciate his effort and what he’s done with this offence.”
Rodgers said the team knew the points record was within reach, but never asked the players to set targets in that category.
The OC said the 2011 Raiders are so high-scoring because they have one of the league’s best players in Yantz, but also receivers who can catch even bad throws. An underrated run game and a solid O line have also contributed, he said, and the team has so much depth that the points keep coming even late in the fourth quarter.
“We never like to worry about points, we just worry about executing each play and the points will come,” he said. “If you’re a starter, if you’re second string, whenever you get in, play as hard as you can.”