There’s no tying in football, if the V.I. Raiders get their way.
Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team is determined to do better following its most recent game, a 31-31 tie on Saturday against the Langley Rams.
As the Raiders resumed practice Tuesday at Comox Field, the math was simple. Their tie earned them one point in the standings, half of what they wanted.
“We’ve got to put in twice as much work to earn twice as much points,” said Matt Sawyer, Raiders receiver. “I think we’ll respond great because everyone isn’t satisfied with what happened and we all want to improve and we all want to get better and we all want to be winners.”
Since the goal is always to win, Sawyer said, the tie felt like a loss. Raiders linebacker Jon Jones said the team takes the tie as a disappointment.
“We didn’t play to what we feel we can reach, so every time you don’t play to the best of your ability, you want to go back to the drawing board and figure things out,” he said. “We’ll come back with some different ways in the game that we can do better.”
It started with a good practice on Tuesday, said Raiders coach Matthew (Snoop) Blokker. Players seemed willing to listen, which he said is important.
“As much as our opponents, we still have focus on ourself right now,” said Blokker. “We can spend all the time in the world drawing up what they’re doing, but if we don’t know what we’re doing, it really doesn’t matter. We’re still in a stage where what we’re doing is the most important thing and we’ve got to continue to do that.”
Blokker pointed out that the Raiders have a lot of young players, a lot of new guys on defence and some new systems to adjust to.
“So we’re a ways away, still, from being able to just play without having to think,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that we get our guys up to speed so this game becomes easy.”
After surrendering 31 points against the Rams, the Raiders’ defensive players need to concentrate on doing their assignments better, said Jones.
“All of us as a collective defence need to step up and not think everything’s going to be handed to us,” he said. “We’ve got to go out and make a name for ourselves as a new defence.”
The Raiders were repeating the words “wakeup call”, and looking forward to getting right back out on their home field against the Okanagan Sun on Saturday (Aug. 18) and trying for a better result than a tie.
“It was an eye opener. No one’s perfect,” said Dylan Chapdelaine, Raiders linebacker. “It’s not a bad thing. We’re going to just have to come out and show the fans what our true colours are. We’re going to have to come and ball out.”
GAME ON … The Raiders and Sun kick off Saturday at 5 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Look for a preview of the game in that day’s print issue, or online Friday at www.nanaimobulletin.com/sports.