Unless the V.I. Raiders go on to win a B.C. championship, this week’s matchup is their final home game of 2016.
The Raiders host the Okanagan Sun on Saturday (Sept. 24).
The Raiders are planning to build on the positives from last weekend’s effort.
“We hope that we can build on our performance against Westshore,” said Jerome Erdman, Raiders coach. “I think it did a lot for our confidence. We probably played our most complete game of the season.”
The Sun will have a different frame of mind after a loss that was so decisive that it had the league’s own website questioning interconference play.
“They’re a very good football team and I’m sure they’re going to be coming to town really PO’d about what happened last game, so we expect them to be very hungry and angry,” Erdman said.
The two teams met six weeks ago in Kelowna, a game the Sun won 37-19. Erdman noted that that contest was still a one-score game until the end and thinks a more complete game from his team can yield a better outcome.
“To beat a really good football team like Okanagan, you’ve got to play all four quarters and you have to be disciplined and you have to ride the ups and the downs and keep a level head and keep plugging away,” Erdman said.
Offensively, he wants to see his players to continue with some of what worked last week as far as taking what the defence gives them. On defence, he said his team needs to be aware of new Sun receiver Rashaun Simonise who was waived by the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals earlier this month.
“And you can’t just focus on the one guy – the rest of their offence is pretty good, too,” Erdman said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for our defence, but I feel very confident that [defensive coordinator Doug Hocking]’s going to have them prepared and ready to do battle.”
The Raiders have clinched a playoff spot in the B.C. Football Conference and can’t move up or down from fourth place, but they won’t be thinking about the post-season with this week’s challenge in front of them.
“You can’t look ahead or do things differently; that’s when trouble occurs,” Erdman said. “Our focus is to beat the Okanagan Sun and worry about the playoffs when they arrive.”
GAME ON … The Raiders and Sun kick off Saturday at 2 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Tickets will be available at the gate. The Raiders hope for a good crowd to recognize the handful of graduating fifth-year juniors including receiver Dustin Rodriguez.