Raiders refocus to play rival Sun

Nanaimo's V.I. Raiders and Kelowna's Okanagan Sun kick off Saturday (Sept. 29) at 2 p.m. at Caledonia Park.

V.I. Raiders receiver Matt Sawyer

V.I. Raiders receiver Matt Sawyer

The V.I. Raiders, and their fans, will really enjoy the benefits of an unbalanced schedule at this stage of the season.

The B.C. Football Conference’s move toward more games among top-tier teams sees the Raiders host the Okanagan Sun this Saturday (Sept. 29), a week after Nanaimo toppled the Langley Rams.

That first-place showdown between the Raiders and Rams was highly anticipated and hard-fought, and there could be a danger of a letdown after a game like that. But not with the Okanagan Sun coming to town.

“Okie’s always good, no matter what, whatever their record is this year,” said Whitman Tomusiak, Raiders receiver. “I’ve never had a game against Okie that hasn’t been a tough, physical game.”

The Raiders have already defeated the Sun twice this season, but both games were close enough that the outcome was in doubt in the second half.

Nanaimo believes, however, after its win last weekend, that it’s reached a new level as a football team.

“We know we can beat any team in this league. So it’s a good confidence booster,” Tomusiak said. “I hope we can keep the momentum that we’ve got from the last two weeks.”

Jon Jones, Raiders linebacker, said his team, during the game in Langley, “got to a place that we haven’t been to.” So the challenge is to stay there this coming weekend against the Sun.

“We don’t want to dip to their level,” said Jones. “Now that we’re at this point, being on top, I want us to be able to even be better so we don’t have to worry about fighting it out for [first place] again. It’s going to take hard work. We’ve got to work even harder than when we were at the bottom, just to maintain our status of being at the top.”

It will take a focused week of practice and preparation, players said, and a consistent game, to beat the Sun on Saturday (Sept. 29). Jones said his team needs to shut down the Sun’s run game, and also be aware of the opposition’s big-play potential.

The Raiders look forward to the game, and the challenge.

“Both teams definitely bring a little animosity towards each other,” Jones said. “And then having us on the same sidelines, definitely some words are exchanged and a couple of slights are handed out on the field. It’s good, healthy competition. It’s good to have an opponent that wants to go against you. It makes you get up for the game.”

GAME ON … The Raiders and Sun kick off Saturday at 2 p.m. at Caledonia Park … To read yesterday’s news and notes on the Raiders, please click here … To read more about the Okanagan Sun, click here.

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