Raiders look past Huskers, still win big

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team was able to handle the Huskers 52-3 on Sunday in the Fraser Valley despite being totally distracted by what's next on the schedule.

The V.I. Raiders have their sights set on bigger things than this past weekend’s road win over the Chilliwack Huskers.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team was able to handle the Huskers 52-3 on Sunday in the Fraser Valley despite being totally distracted by a game this Saturday (Aug. 27) against Kelowna.

“We looked ahead completely to playing the Okanagan Sun … Why [would] you pretend? We didn’t,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach.

Instead, the Raiders spent almost the entire practice week last week preparing for the Sun. On Friday, the shortest practice of the week, they spent one day getting ready for the Huskers. It was enough.

“We got some good work in today and I think that was important,” Blokker said after Sunday’s win.

The Huskers came out ready to play and limited the damage in the first half, keeping the game within reach at 18-3. But the Raiders kept pounding away in the second half to make it another blowout.

The Raiders almost treated the game like a glorified practice at times, working on their no-huddle offence and gambling on some third-down plays.

“We really played some good situational football,” said the coach. “We were hoping to get certain situations and regardless, we were able to practise some things that we wanted to work on.”

Quarterback Jordan Yantz was player of the game, throwing for three touchdowns and running in two short majors. He was 16-for-28 passing for 285 yards.

League-leading receiver Andrew Smith had another huge game with 137 yards and two TD catches, the first of which was an impressive 60-yard catch-and-run play where he eluded tacklers with his footwork.

Dustin Pedersen scored the game’s first touchdown on a well-executed red-zone play late in the first quarter and Mike Schaper had Nanaimo’s other major, a 16-yard catch early in the fourth quarter.

Whitman Tomusiak made three catches for 70 yards and Schaper had four catches for 62 yards. Jordan Botel rushed for 104 yards on 14 carries and Alex Jobson rushed 10 times for 66 yards.

Both the V.I. team’s kickers played a half and both received praise from the coach. Ryan Jones had a punt single and a 36-yard field goal in the first half and Mark Mueller hit field goals of 21 yards and 36 yards in the second half.

“We could have a kickers’ controversy going on,” Blokker said.

Defensively, linebacker Dylan Chapdelaine was a standout with five tackles, a sack, a pass knockdown and a highlight-reel run-stuffing hit late in the game.

Ranji Atwall, Nick Woznesensky and Erling Skuggedal also had sacks, as did fan favourite Evan Foster, a Raiders player from Chilliwack. Glenn Boyce had five tackles.

GRID BITS … The Raiders (4-0) play the Sun (4-0) on Saturday (Aug. 27) at 4 p.m. at Caledonia Park … In other CJFL scores from the weekend, the Okanagan Sun drubbed the Victoria Rebels 49-7 down the Island and the Langley Rams beat the Kamloops Broncos 28-10 in the desert.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com