The V.I. Raiders are a perfect 3-0 and they’ve outscored opponents 171-26. Their quarterback and running back lead the league. Their starting receivers are first, second, third and tied for fourth in yards.
If they wanted to, they could soak in the hype, admire their stats and feel pretty good about themselves. But they won’t.
“We put it aside,” said Dustin Pedersen, veteran receiver. “We’ll look at that at the end of the year.”
The Raiders are all buying into what the coaches are telling them – that they still have a long way to go to be at their best, despite what the stats and standings say.
“It’s nice to be at the top. Any time you’re at the top, it’s good,” said Steve Daniel, offensive lineman. “But then you’ve just got to keep working so you can stay there the whole season.”
Last weekend at Caledonia Park against the Kamloops Broncos the Raiders say they were guilty of a sluggish start, some mis-timed plays and some ill-advised penalties. Yet at game’s end the score was 60-7.
“The scoreboard is the scoreboard and that’s not a good way of measuring it,” said Cole Bishop, Raiders safety.
Daniel said even during the game, as the V.I. Raiders were piling up points against the Broncos, they were aware of mistakes they were making.
“When you go out there and you play good, you feel good,” he said. “That win felt good but you could still tell the stuff that we weren’t executing on every down.”
The rookie Bishop said the V.I. Raiders’ veteran players have helped to keep the team focused during a dominant start to the season.
“They really rally us younger guys and they really make us want to work harder,” he said. “[They] never really give us that opportunity to accept it and think, ‘oh, that’s good enough.’ They always make us push that extra little mile.”
That will be the focus again this week as the Raiders get ready to play the B.C. Football Conference’s last-placed Chilliwack Huskers (0-3).
“You never know if you can handle a team,” Daniel said. “You can never underestimate a team.”
Pedersen said the Raiders might have been guilty of just that against the Broncos, so they’ll try to learn from it.
“Hopefully we can figure that out this week,” he said. “We’ll come out hard, go through the whole game as hard as we can, execute.”
GAME ON … The Raiders and Huskers play Sunday (Aug. 21) at 2 p.m. at Chilliwack’s Exhibition Stadium. The game will be webcast live at www.viraiders.ca … The next home game for the Raiders is Aug. 27, when the Okanagan Sun (3-0) visit Caledonia Park for a 4 p.m. start.