V.I. Raiders and new coach earn first win

V.I. Raiders and new coach earn first win

Nanaimo's V.I. Raiders defeated the Westshore Rebels 39-9 on Saturday night in B.C. Football Conference action in Victoria.

The V.I Raiders earned their first win of the season, the first win for a new coaching staff and the first win, they hope, of many.

The Raiders defeated the Westshore Rebels 39-9 on Saturday night in B.C. Football Conference action in Victoria.

The Raiders rocketed to a 26-0 first-quarter lead before their momentum stalled and the rest of the game was more evenly contested. The Nanaimo team was able to get all its guys in, though, and everyone contributed, with six different players scoring touchdowns.

“We’ve been working extremely hard, so it was nice to get this victory, especially the first one of the season with a whole-new coaching staff. So that means a lot,” said Brendan Lattimer, V.I. defensive back. “And I think it’s just the beginning. I think we’re going to start rolling from here.”

It was the first career coaching win for Brian Ridgeway, but he wasn’t satisfied with what he saw on Saturday.

“If we were perfect, then I’d be super happy, but we weren’t perfect…” he said. “We got the win and we needed the two points, but our execution was nowhere near where it needed to be.”

He said guys didn’t maintain their focus consistently, and abandoned their technique and scheme.

“We still need to work on keeping the tempo going throughout the whole game. It’s definitely something we’ll work on,” said Arthur Fabbro, V.I. receiver.

Lattimer said the Raiders need to keep up the intensity, no matter which players take the field.

“We subbed in a lot of younger guys and a lot of guys were sort of thrown into the fire,” he said. “If we can execute well as a whole team … execute our assignment and trust each other, I think we’ll be good.”

The Raiders’ defence set the tone to start the game, as it didn’t allow the Rebels a gain of more than four yards for the first 10 minutes and forced turnovers on Victoria’s first two possessions. Lattimer’s fumble recovery in Rebels territory led to the first points of the game, as V.I. quarterback Liam O’Brien found Owen Redlick for a 17-yard TD reception. The Raiders scored two more majors in the next three minutes, with Marshall Cook making a 24-yard TD catch, then Nate Berg running in a nine-yard touchdown. Late in the quarter O’Brien found a wide-open Alex Kutra, who straight-armed the last Rebels defender and ran in for a 52-yard catch-and-run TD.

There was no more scoring until late in the third quarter, when Brody Taylor completed a 40-yard TD pass to Fabbro.

The Raiders defence made a goal-line stand early in the fourth, but the Rebels got on the board right after that with a safety from Tanner Rodinsky. V.I.’s Micheal Ritchott scored a 69-yard punt return TD and then Vic QB Hunter Lake scored a two-yard rushing TD late in the game to round out the scoring.

The Rebels actually outgained the Raiders in net offence, with 453 yards compared to 403, and Vic was especially productive through the air as Lake had 437 passing yards, 211 to Nathan Leader.

O’Brien was 12-for-22 for 243 yards. Fabbro had 78 receiving yards.

Defensively, Lattimer had an interception to go with his fumble recovery and Daniel Dubinski also had an INT. Taylor Saine had two sacks, Kaelan Botel and Ash Gayat also got to the quarterback and Dexter Shea had a forced fumble and five tackles. For Victoria, Chris Pastro had eight tackles and three sacks.

A win with so many contributors is good for the team, said Fabbro, who caught Taylor’s first CJFL touchdown.

“All the young guys who have never played a CJFL game, they’re getting their first catch or first touchdown; it’s all really cool. It brings everyone together,” Fabbro said.

Lattimer said that was evident right after the final whistle.

“The game just ended, but the level of a brotherhood that we’re starting to create is amazing,” he said. “Especially getting all the rookies to have the confidence and understand that the Raiders are a winning franchise and that’s what we do.”

GRID BITS … In other action Saturday, the Langley Rams defeated the Okanagan Sun 49-33 and the Kamloops Broncos beat the Valley Huskers 49-33. Both those games were played in the Fraser Valley … The Raiders visit the Okanagan Sun on Saturday (Aug. 9) in Kelowna.