Raiders handle Rebels in exhibition

A lot of first-year Raiders made their gridiron debut with the team on the weekend. They passed their initiation – defeating the Victoria Rebels. The V.I. Raiders junior football team beat the newly renamed Westshore Rebels 53-11 on Saturday on the road in pre-season action.

A lot of first-year Raiders made their gridiron debut with the team on the weekend. They passed their initiation – defeating the Victoria Rebels.

The V.I. Raiders junior football team beat the newly renamed Westshore Rebels 53-11 on Saturday on the road in pre-season action.

“Our execution, I thought, was great. We had zero offsides, no procedures, those type of things that you always get a ton of in pre-season, we didn’t,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach. “I’m also really happy with our effort and how physical we played.”

Tailback Jordan Botel scored three touchdowns and Raiders quarterback Jordan Yantz was in sync with his receivers.

“They’ve got tons of experience together and a great rhythm and I thought they were heads and tails above the defenders that were trying to cover them,” Blokker said.

The defence, he said, included a host of young players and they needed a couple of series to find their footing. But as the game went on, they showed a willingness to hit hard and gang tackle.

The task now is to continue preparations for Week 1 of the Canadian Junior Football League season, which starts Saturday (July 30) with a road game against the Langley Rams.

The Raiders coach said both his offensive and defensive coordinator kept things fairly simple for this past weekend’s exhibition game, and they’ll continue to do so early in the season. The Raiders feel like they were able to install  enough of the playbook at main camp to get them through Week 1.

“We just want to polish that and do it perfect,” Blokker said. “Unless we’re running everything right, we’re not going to insert anything else.”

So practice this week, he said, will be all about execution. The exhibition win was encouraging, but there is lots to work on.

“We still made a ton of mistakes, we still had guys going the wrong way, this that and everything else. All that stuff we have to get much better at and I believe we will.”

GRID BITS … Please look for the News Bulletin’s annual V.I. Raiders season preview later this week … The team won’t play its home opener until Aug. 13 against the Kamloops Broncos.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com