The V.I. Raiders are, in a lot of ways, an all-new team this year. But they’ll try to keep up their same old dominance over the Westshore Rebels.
The two B.C. Football Conference rivals play Saturday (Aug. 2) in Victoria.
New Raiders coach Brian Ridgeway, who played for both teams, was advised that Nanaimo has never lost to Victoria in junior football – not in pre-season, not in regular season, not in playoffs.
“No pressure,” he said. “Obviously we need the win. The other thing to consider is points for and against, because that factors into our standings.”
Ridgeway said he only has good feelings looking back on his time playing for the Rebels, and doesn’t see any animosity in the Island rivalry.
“Demonizing your opponent, that was never a factor when I played, it’s not a factor now,” he said.
Both teams are looking to respond to Week 1 losses. The Raiders were edged 44-36 by the Langley Rams last weekend and the Rebels were thumped 38-9 by the Kamloops Broncos.
It’s still at that early-season stage when teams will work primarily on their own game and not be overly concerned as to what the opponent might bring.
“We’ve got to keep worrying about ourselves here, keep fixing our own problems first,” said Jordan Botel, Raiders offensive coordinator.
“The major focus is on us and what we’re doing and assignment checks and making sure we’re a lot more crisp,” added Ridgeway.
The head coach said he hopes to get more guys onto the field in Week 2. The first game of the season, he said, was so close that he wasn’t able to share playing time as much as he had hoped to.
The Raiders will also be able to test out some adjustments that they have been able to make since their first taste of game action.
“We can go really hard in practice and you’ll see certain things, but game speed is something totally different…” Ridgeway said. “We’ve got a gritty group of guys and they’re starting to really jell together as a group on and off the field, so it’s exciting to see.”
GAME ON … The Raiders and the Rebels kick off Saturday at 7 p.m. at Victoria’s Westhills Stadium.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) July 31, 2014