The V.I. Raiders are a quick study. Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team got better as the game went on and earned a solid win to start the 2011 season.
The Raiders defeated the Langley Rams 39-13 on Saturday evening in the Fraser Valley.
“Overall it was a pretty decent effort,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach. “We didn’t come out and play very good in the first half. We were not anywhere near as physical as what we need to be … Once the second half started and we played a lot more physical, we were a much better team.”
The coach said the slow start was more mental than anything.
“Sometimes the expectations are pretty high with our team and sometimes guys come in and they feel that if you just put the jersey on, that means you’re going to win,” Blokker said. “After we had a good talk at half time we were a completely different football team.”
The coach was satisfied with the Raiders’ execution, considering that the gusting winds made the pass game more challenging.
Receiver Andrew Smith made six catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns to lead the offence and Dustin Pedersen made four catches for 70 yards. Quarterback Jordan Yantz was 15-of-29 for 276 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tailback Jordan Botel rushed 14 times for 127 yards and Alex Jobson ran for 75 yards and a TD. Kicker Ryan Jones was 3-for-4 on field goal attempts.
Blokker said the Raiders “played great defensively” in allowing only two field goals. The Rams’ only major was a 107-yard kick return from star Nick Downey in the second quarter.
On defence for the Raiders, Nick Woznesensky had two quarterback sacks and three solo tackles, Ranji Atwall was in on six tackles and Evan Foster had three tackles. Cole Bishop had an interception and Erling Skuggedal and Ash Gayat recovered fumbles.
GRID BITS … The Raiders (1-0) play the Westshore Rebels (1-0) on Saturday (Aug. 6) at 7 p.m. at Victoria’s Bear Mountain Stadium … In other CJFL action over the long weekend, the Okanagan Sun defeated the Kamloops Broncos 40-14 in the desert and the Victoria Rebels handled the Chilliwack Huskers 37-8 in the Fraser Valley … The first home game for the V.I. Raiders will be Aug. 13 against the Broncos at 4 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Season tickets cost $60. For information, please call 250-756-4755 or e-mail email@example.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Atlas Truss office on Boxwood Road.