The last game of the regular season matters to the Raiders for a few reasons. Not the least of which is, it’s the last chance to get the passing game ready for playoff football.
The V.I. Raiders will host the Westshore Rebels this Saturday at Caledonia Park. Nanaimo needs to win to clinch first place in the B.C. Football Conference, but it also needs to start thinking about playoffs.
Right now, the Raiders aren’t sure who’s going to be their starting quarterback in their semifinal playoff game later this month, and that’s a bit unusual for a first-placed team.
But after Jamie Ybarra broke his collarbone in last Saturday’s game, it was left to backups Jaeden Marwick and Jahmari Bennett to close out the win. It will be up to one or both of those guys to direct the offence the rest of the way.
“These guys have all got game experience, they’ve all played against the top teams…” said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker. “From that standpoint, nothing that way should be new.”
He said by leaning on all three quarterbacks throughout the season, it puts the Raiders in a better position now, when it’s turned out that they’ve needed all three. Marwick and Bennett know the game plan, and they know to be ready when called upon.
So it’s not as though the two backups are starting from scratch.
“During practice we’re pretty successful,” Marwick said. “Me and Jahmari and Jamie are all equally successful and we’re pretty used to the receivers and what they’re capable of. I don’t think by game time it will be any different.”
He said the Raiders need to establish a pass game to have success in the playoffs, so this week’s matchup against the Rebels will mean important game reps.
“For me and Jaeden, it’s definitely going to be a game for us to figure out what we can work on and what we need to improve on,” said Bennett. “This game is … a chance to improve those skills and give us a chance to see where we stand and what we know.”
Both guys are excited to get a chance to line up under centre during the best part of football season. Bennett said he’s completely focused.
“I definitely don’t want to let this opportunity slip,” he said. “I’m very excited but at the same time I’m going to be taking it very seriously each practice. It’s going to be all business for me this week and playoffs. I’m going to make sure I’m on my game.”
Marwick was hurt last weekend but hopes to be 100 per cent later this week.
“This week we’re going to have both of them and they’ll both get ready and then we’ll figure out who’s going to start in Game 1 of the playoffs,” Blokker said.
GAME ON … The Raiders and Rebels kick off this Saturday (Oct. 5) at 1 p.m. at Caledonia Park. For a preview of the game, check back Friday morning at www.nanaimobulletin.com/sports.