V.I. Raiders player Dustin Rodriguez returns a kickoff as teammate Owen Redlick tries to give him running room during a game against the Langley Rams earlier this month. The teams meet Saturday (Sept. 28) in Langley.

V.I. Raiders player Dustin Rodriguez returns a kickoff as teammate Owen Redlick tries to give him running room during a game against the Langley Rams earlier this month. The teams meet Saturday (Sept. 28) in Langley.

Raiders’ regular season comes down to game against Rams

Nanaimo's junior football team visits the Langley Rams this Saturday (Sept. 28) for the second-to-last game of the BCFC regular season.

The V.I. Raiders have a chance to really solidify their hold on first place, but it will take a huge effort on the road.

Nanaimo’s junior football team visits the Langley Rams this Saturday (Sept. 28) for the second-to-last game of the B.C. Football Conference regular season.

“As coaches and players, that’s all you want, is a chance yourself to control your own destiny and I’m really proud of this team and how we’ve fought back and put ourselves in that position,” said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, Raiders coach.

Nanaimo and Langley have split the season series so far. The Rams won 36-28 in August, but the Raiders took the rematch 41-27 two weeks ago. Both those games were at Caledonia Park, while the rubber match takes place on the turf at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park.

“It’s going to be about who plays faster,” said Cole Samson, Raiders linebacker.

After a couple of shootout-style games, there’s no reason to expect this one to be any different.

“Langley’s a very talented offensive team. They’ve got talent everywhere, but they’re stacked on the offence,” Blokker said. “They’re going to score points, that’s just inevitable, so we’ve just got to match them and match them early until the game settles down.”

Samson, too, stressed that a strong start is important.

“Coming out in our first series is going to reflect the rest of the game,” he said. “If we come out and we score a touchdown the first series or make a big play defensively, we’re going to feed off that.”

Blokker said he expects emotions to be high in the game, but pointed out that his players have been rising to the occasion on game day.

“We’ve challenged ourself and every week we’re fighting to meet that challenge,” he said. “And we’re doing a better job and we’re more focused at it.”

GAME ON … Saturday’s kickoff is at 4 p.m. … The game features all of the BCFC’s players of the week, as Raiders quarterback Jamie Ybarra is the BCFC’s Offensive Player of the Week, receiver/returner Whitman Tomusiak was chosen Special Teams Player of the Week and the Rams’ Jacob Patko is the Defensive Player of the Week.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com