Raiders suffer rare loss

Nanaimo's Canadian Junior Football League team was beaten 17-3 by the Okanagan Sun on Saturday at Kelowna's Apple Bowl stadium.

The V.I. Raiders suffered a rare defeat on the football field.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team was beaten 17-3 by the Okanagan Sun on Saturday at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl stadium. It was the Raiders’ most lopsided loss in six years and only the seventh regular-season loss in their nine-year history.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot over and over again,” said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, Raiders coach. “We didn’t look like we were very prepared at all, the way we played.”

Okie built a 10-0 lead by halftime and made it 17-0 in the third quarter. The V.I. team scored its only points in the fourth quarter on a 37-yard field goal by Ryan Jones. Three points are the fewest that the Raiders have ever scored in a football game.

Nanaimo did manage more first downs than Kelowna, 14 compared to 13, but  the Sun gained 245 yards of total offence while the Raiders were held to 224.

“We have to have a little more desire to want to finish and we’ve got to improve on the pass game…” said Blokker. “If we don’t get better at that, [opponents] will just load every guy in the box and take away the run against us. So we have to do something in the pass to keep some balance.”

V.I. quarterback Jahmari Bennett was 3-for-7 for 35 yards and an interception and Nanaimo used both its backup QBs, too. Jaeden Marwick went 4-for-7 for 47 yards and a pick and Jamie Ybarra was 2-for-6 for 30 yards.

Alex Kutra finished with 47 receiving yards on three catches and Dustin Rodriguez and Alex Thompson had two catches each. Taylor Flavel rushed the ball 10 times for 42 yards and Andrew Deleon had 37 yards on three carries.

Defensively, Ash Gayat had six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Dylan Chapdelaine and Cole Samson had five tackles each and Fabian Ross had four. Andrew Rowe had a fumble recovery and Jaxxen Wylie made an interception.

The Raiders are now getting ready for their home opener Saturday (Aug. 10) when they host the defending B.C. champions, the Langley Rams. So there’s not much time to dwell over the loss to the Sun.

“You have to take what you can from that game and move on and keep working,” Blokker said.

GAME ON … Saturday’s kickoff between the Raiders and Rams is at 4 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Tickets will be available at the gate, or for more ticket info, please click here … Fans are asked to bring an empty water bottle to the game, because the team’s mascot, Shank Show, is bringing red and black rocks to create noisemakers. For any false start or time-count violation on the other team, Shank Show will toss a t-shirt into the stands.