The V.I. Raiders and the Victoria Rebels face one another on the gridiron for the 20th time on Saturday (Aug. 6).
The Nanaimo squad hopes it ends the same way as the previous 19 meetings – with a win for the Raiders.
The two Canadian Junior Football League teams are both coming off road victories in Week 1, as V.I. defeated the Langley Rams 39-13 and Vic handled the Chilliwack Huskers 37-8.
The rivals also faced one another in the pre-season, a 53-11 pasting by the Raiders.
“We beat them pretty badly, so they’re going to be wanting to come at us pretty hard and show that they’re a better team than that,” said Ranji Atwall, Raiders linebacker.
The V.I. team thinks that last month’s pre-season game was an indication of what to expect this coming Saturday.
“We played most of our starters, they played most of theirs, I think,” said Andrew Smith, Raiders receiver.
V.I.’s defensive players said they will be trying to focus on stopping Victoria’s run game and will also keep in mind that the Rebels’ QB Cat Todorovich likes to get rid of the ball quickly.
“We’ve just got to execute, stick to our man coverage…” said Evan Foster, defensive lineman. “We’ve got to bring our A game and play the best that we can.”
The Raiders were talking a lot this week about preparation. They didn’t feel they started last week’s game with enough physicality, so they intend to be better in that area this week. There’s no excuse not to be pumped up when they’re lining up against the hated Rebels.
“When we play Victoria it’s always going to be a physical game,” Atwall said. “They’re our rival and we want to show them that we own this rock.”
The Raiders franchise was founded in 2005 when most of the Rebels players and coaches left Victoria to move to Nanaimo. There were hard feelings at the time and games between the teams are always emotional.
“They’re the Island rival, right?” asked Smith. “So it’s a pretty big deal and it’s been a big deal since we moved to Nanaimo.”
GAME ON … The V.I. Raiders play the Westshore Rebels tonight (Aug. 6) at 7 p.m. at Victoria’s Bear Mountain Stadium … Nanaimo plays its home opener Aug. 13 when the Kamloops Broncos visit Caledonia Park for a 4 p.m. kickoff … Season tickets are available by calling 250-756-4755 or e-mailing email@example.com.