Raiders play biggest game of season so far

Nanaimo's V.I. Raiders are getting ready to step on the field against the Langley Rams on Saturday (Sept. 26) on the mainland.

V.I. Raiders defensive back Josh Paisley

The V.I. Raiders are getting ready to step on the field in the most important football game of the regular season.

The Raiders visit the Langley Rams on Saturday (Sept. 26). The winner will have the inside track on a home playoff game.

“[Players] know how important it is and hopefully that will reflect in their work ethic this week. I think it will,” said Jerome Erdman, Raiders coach.

The teams haven’t met since Week 1, a 22-14 Nanaimo win, and the squads will be much different now. The Rams were without their starting quarterback in the season opener, for example, and their tailback Nathan Lund is tough to bring down.

“Offensively they’re very well balanced,” Erdman said. “They run and pass the ball very well.”

The Raiders’ defence will have to be disciplined with its assignments and its tackling technique, the coach said.

One interesting lineup change for the Raiders is the addition of running back Coltin LaPlante, a dominant high school player at Ballenas Secondary. With Nathan Berg getting healthier and Taylor Flavel also in the mix, LaPlante rounds out the run game.

“He’s a pretty darn good football player,” said the coach. “So hopefully we’ll have a three-pronged attack.”

A lot of Raiders will be looking to make an impact in the biggest game of the season.

“Big players make big-time plays in big-time situations and I think we have plenty of guys that can do that this week,” said Travis Novak, Raiders linebacker.

He said with the standings the way they are, this Saturday’s game feels like a playoff game. To win that kind of game in an unfriendly environment on the road, the Raiders will look to score early and try to quiet the crowd.

“It’s a circle-the-wagons, us-against-the-world type of thing, and I think that can really galvanize a team,” Erdman said.

GAME ON … The Raiders and Rams kick off Saturday at 4 p.m. at McLeod Stadium.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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