Raiders, Rams play for B.C. championship

The V.I. Raiders host the Langley Rams this Saturday (Oct. 22) in the B.C. Football Conference final at Caledonia Park.

Langley Rams defensive back Jordan Linnen

Langley Rams defensive back Jordan Linnen

The V.I. Raiders love championship games.

One reason why is because it means the semis are firmly behind them.

“I hate the semifinals,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach. “It’s almost like everybody forgets that it’s just a football game because of all the hype that it’s a new season.”

The Raiders got through the semis just fine, with a 49-17 win over the Victoria Rebels, but they know they didn’t play anywhere near their best. With a playoff win in the books now, the coach is expecting the real Raiders to show up for the B.C. Football Conference championship final Saturday (Oct. 22).

Nanaimo takes on the Langley Rams in a 1 p.m. kickoff at Caledonia Park.

“We realize that we’ve got to do better,” said Cole Bishop, Raiders safety. “It’s either do better or suffer the consequences on game day.”

Five-time defending-champion Nanaimo (11-0) is a huge favourite over Langley (6-5). The Raiders won both meetings in the season series. They have more all-star players, more championship experience and home-field advantage at a park where they haven’t lost since 2005.

But the Rams have won their last two football games and reached the B.C. final for a reason.

From playing and scouting the Langley team, the Raiders know the Rams will bang and crash.

“The most physical team is basically going to win every time, so that’s what we really try to emphasize,” said Erling Skuggedal, V.I. special teams player.

The Rams, tasked with slowing down Raiders quarterback Jordan Yantz’s air-raid offence, will be coming for the QB.

“They’ve got a big D line and they like to bring pressure on the quarterback, that’s one thing that we’ve always prepared for against them,” Yantz said.

The Rams have some capable defensive players but their star, without doubt, is receiver and kick returner Nick Downey. Blokker said the Raiders aren’t afraid to kick to Downey, but “we’re going to be smart about what we do.”

Skuggedal said it’s important for the punt and kickoff units to funnel Downey to the inside of the field.

“We can’t give up that edge, because if we give him that edge he does have the speed that can burn us,” Skuggedal said. “We’ve just got to stay focused, run our lanes and there shouldn’t be too many busts.”

Downey made his reputation as a return threat but he was also the league’s receiving champ in 2011. Blokker said the game film shows that Downey just kept running the same two routes all season.

“We’ve got to be aware of that, and we’re going to have some different coverages in that they haven’t seen with him, and hopefully we can confuse him a little bit and at least try and contain him.”

The Rams have another strong receiver on the other side of the field in Daniel English so the Raiders’ D will have to be balanced.

“We’ve just got to play good, solid defence all the way around and we’ve got to play good field positioning and we’ve got to score points and make it a race,” said Blokker.

And no junior football team wins races like the Raiders.

“The trophy’s going to be at the field and especially on our home turf, we want to be the ones to put it up,” said Yantz.

GAME ON … The Raiders and Rams kick off on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Tickets will be available at the gate shortly after noon … The winner of the BCFC championship will be presented the Cullen Cup trophy and will earn the right to host the Prairie Football Conference champs next weekend in the Intergold Cup national semifinal.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP had been asking for help locating a 43-year-old man whose family was ‘extremely worried.’ (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP report man who had made ‘troubling’ comments has been found

43-year-old is receiving treatment he requires, say police

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

An event on the lawn of the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Tuesday to remember the 215 children whose remains were confirmed buried in unmarked graves outside a Kamloops residential school. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Canada’s racist systems cannot ever be forgiven

Teen letter writer from Nunavut calls for truth and reconciliation

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

City of Nanaimo council has approved amendments for an animal control bylaw requested by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The bylaw includes language related to quail. (Wikipedia Commons photo)
Province asks for tweaks to Nanaimo’s animal responsibility bylaw

Ministry concerned bylaw wording could create municipal and provincial jurisdictional overlaps

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo hospital district seeks help from other districts for $1-billion project

Funding for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital patient tower discussed by committee

Stuffed toys, many with donations pinned to them, are piled in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park at a vigil May 31 honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were discovered outside a residential school in Kamloops. (News Bulletin file photo)
Thousands donated to child and family service agency following Nanaimo vigil

Toys and money donated to Kw’umut Lelum child and family services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Most Read