The shine of the V.I. Raiders’ last game has finally worn off, because a shiny new game day has arrived.
On Saturday (Aug. 13) the Raiders (2-0) play their home opener against the Kamloops Broncos (1-1). Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team is coming off one of its most satisfying regular-season wins ever, a 72-6 thrashing of the Victoria Rebels, but they’ll have to put that behind them.
“We reset, get focused for the next week,” said Glenn Boyce, Raiders linebacker. “We’re not trying to get too high on ourselves, we’re just trying to work day by day.”
Receiver Whitman Tomusiak said “it’s definitely tougher” to refocus on the next game after a dominant performance.
“That’s the challenge this week,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t relax. We’ve still got to keep the tempo up like it was last week, keep getting better.”
It helps that the Raiders have a little extra to play for this week – it’s their home opener, so players want to make an impression on fans at Caledonia Park.
“They can’t wait to go out and express themselves in front of everybody here in Nanaimo,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach. “We want to show everybody in Nanaimo, too, that this year’s team is for real and they should get excited about us.”
Blokker said he thinks Nanaimo sports fans appreciate hard-working teams and he believes this year’s Raiders fall into that category.
And of course the V.I. team has the ability to get fans out of their seats.
“We’re a fast team. Defensively we’re flying, and offensively, through the mix, we can do almost everything. We’ve got possession guys and big-play guys,” said the coach.
While the Raiders like to entertain, their No. 1 goal Saturday will be picking up a win in the standings against the Broncos.
Kamloops is led defensively by linebacker Mitch Day, and the offence is keyed by running back Mike McMaster, a former Raider.
“We can’t take them lightly. We try not to take anyone lightly,” said Jordan Yantz, V.I. quarterback. “We’re expecting their best and they’ve got a couple outstanding players on their defence so we have to prepare for that.”
The Raiders’ coach said his defence, first and foremost, will try to take the Broncos’ run game away.
“[McMaster] is just ripping it right now, he’s having a great season so far,” Blokker said. “We’ve got to stop him and we’ve got to make them pass the football.”
Offensively, the coach said he wants his team to sustain drives better than it has been doing thus far.
The park could also be a factor on Saturday – the Raiders are intimidating at Caledonia, having won 38 straight home games dating back to Oct. 15, 2005. The team hasn’t played on its home field since last October’s Intergold Cup national semifinal game.
“I’m really looking forward to it; it seems like awhile since we played there,” Tomusiak said. “We’re ready to get back home.”
GAME ON … The Raiders and Broncos kick off at 4 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 13) at Caledonia Park. Tickets will be available at the gate. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and children five and under will be admitted free … For much more coverage on the V.I. Raiders, please visit – and bookmark – http://bit.ly/bulletinsports.