The V.I. Raiders are rested up and ready to resume action in the Canadian Junior Football League.
The Raiders (3-0-1) demolished the Kamloops Broncos 59-17 Aug. 25 and then went into a bye week, getting a chance to rest, heal up and give out-of-town players the chance to go home.
Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, V.I. coach, said the 10-day break was planned from the beginning of the year to take this time off regardless of how the team was doing.
“It was an opportunity for some guys to go home, rest, get some home cooking,” he said. “We have six games in a row, five of them I consider to be extremely tough, physical football games, so the break was exactly what we needed.”
The team returns to action Saturday (Sept. 8) with a 2 p.m. game against the Chilliwack Huskers (0-4) at Caledonia Park.
But despite the natural tendency to look past the last place Huskers to a Sept. 15 match against the Okanagan Sun, Blokker believes his squad will focus on the task at hand.
“It’s a natural thing to look ahead, and Kelowna is definitely a match to look at,” he said. “But we haven’t been together for over 10 days now so I think they’re focused on getting back together and get practising.”
Blokker said the coaches will make sure this week’s focus is all about Chilliwack.
“We’re all creatures of habit and have to go through our routines,” he said. “We can’t look past another team. We have to prepare for the team in front of us.”
The game is an opportunity for players other than first string to see some action.
But Blokker said not only will the game dictate what they do in terms of player rotation and playing time, but practice will make a difference as well.
“We’re rested up and ready to get back to hitting, and those guys who work their asses off this week will get some playing time,” he said.