The V.I. Raiders see that the Okanagan Sun are in the throes of a slump, and would love to make their rivals even more uncomfortable.
The two B.C. Football Conference teams play Saturday (Sept. 15) at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl stadium.
The Raiders (4-0-1) are coming off an 85-0 laugher over the Chilliwack Huskers on Saturday, while the Sun (1-4) were edged by the Westshore Rebels 27-24 that same day.
“Those guys are going to be coming off a pretty devastating loss, so they’re going to be full of energy and wanting to hit us even harder,” said Jordan Yantz, Raiders quarterback.
Even though the Raiders’ primary goal on Saturday will be to win and improve their record to 5-0-1, coach Matthew (Snoop) Blokker mentioned that his team also thinks about causing the Sun to lose, and seeing that team drop to 1-5.
“They’re in a situation right now where they’re a bit of a fragile team and we want to take advantage of that,” he said.
The V.I. team will take care not to underestimate its opponent, either.
“I still believe they’ve got a ton of veteran players and a ton of talent. They’re still a way better team than what their record shows and we’re not going to fall into this trap of thinking they’re a bunch of young rookies and yada, yada, yada that they’re telling everyone,” Blokker said. “They can keep telling everybody that, but we’re not going to believe it.”
The Sun are the only B.C. team to have defeated the Raiders since Blokker resumed coaching Nanaimo at the start of the 2008 season. The last meeting between the rivals was a 30-29 win for V.I. a month ago.
“Knowing they had a one-point game against us last time, their confidence is going to be through the roof,” said Yantz. “We’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Yantz threw three interceptions against the Sun in that 30-29 game, and he and Blokker both mentioned that limiting turnovers will be critical in the rematch.
“We’ve got to make the Okanagan Sun earn everything they get and take care of the football,” said Blokker. “The Okanagan Sun have lost the turnover battle with every team except the Raiders, so we just can’t lose the turnover battle as bad as what we did.”
The other game within the game to watch for will be new Raiders player J.J. Mraovic, a former Sun QB who joined the Raiders and started at safety last game.
Blokker was asked if he was tempted to try to put Mraovic in a position to make a key play against his former team.
“You start getting into those games and then you get away from who you are, and your game plan…” Blokker said. “If he celebrates with our team after the game because we have a win, I think that’s enough for him and for all of us.”