Raiders’ secondary scores rare shutout

The V.I. Raiders, once again, had a record-setting offensive game in Saturday’s 52-8 win against the rival Westshore Rebels. But the stat that most players seemed to be talking about came on the defensive side of the ball – zero catches by Rebels receivers.

V.I. Raiders defensive back Skylor Letcher juggles but catches the ball during a drill at practice Tuesday night at Comox field.

V.I. Raiders defensive back Skylor Letcher juggles but catches the ball during a drill at practice Tuesday night at Comox field.

The V.I. Raiders, once again, had a record-setting offensive game in Saturday’s 52-8 win against the rival Westshore Rebels.

But the stat that most players seemed to be talking about came on the defensive side of the ball – zero catches by Rebels receivers.

Vic’s quarterbacks attempted 14 passes. Some were dropped and some sailed incomplete. The rest were batted away, broken up or intercepted.

“When your DBs have more catches than the receivers, it’s a pretty awesome day,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach. “What a great group of athletes and what a great group of competitors. It just allows us to do so many different things defensively when they’re playing like that.”

Blokker said people sometimes forget that the DB corps is the youngest group on the Raiders roster.

Jesse Ehrenberg, defensive backs coach, said Saturday’s no-catches-allowed game will help the young players a lot.

“They have the confidence to not allow catches against themselves, through all five positions – safeties, halfbacks and corners,” he said.

And that’s a huge part of the mental game, said Tremaine Apperley, the veteran of the unit.

“Confidence is one of the key things for a DB because if you get beat, everyone sees it,” Apperley said. “A game like that is definitely going to give our whole group confidence.”

The unit won’t be over-confident, though. Apperley said there were plenty of mistakes and he knows he was out of position at times.

“There’s stuff that can be worked on, so hopefully we can just build off of it and continue to shut teams out,” he said.

Ehrenberg said the basic coverage scheme has been kept relatively simple to allow the young group to grow.

“We’re really buying into the zone,” Apperley said. “We like playing zone so we’re able to sit back there and watch what the quarterback is doing and just make plays.”

Two of the biggest defensive plays on Saturday came from Adam Laurensse, who hawked his second and third interceptions of the season to move into second place in the B.C. Football Conference in that category.

“We stuck to the basics,” Laurensse said. “Everybody did their job today. We’re growing each game, climbing up.”

Of course, the entire Raiders defence combined to make Saturday’s unique feat possible. Pressure from the front seven kept Westshore’s quarterbacks off-balance when they threw.

“With these kids, they have a time in their head when the ball should be out,” Ehrenberg said. “If that D line’s faster, then it’s easier to cover somebody for three seconds than it is for five seconds.”

GAME ON … The Raiders play the Kamloops Broncos on the road Saturday (Sept. 17) at 7 p.m. Next home action is Sept. 24 against the Chilliwack Huskers, a 2 p.m. kickoff at Caledonia Park … For more news on the Raiders, please check back at www.nanaimobulletin.com on Thursday (Sept. 15) or pick up that day’s print issue of the News Bulletin.

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