V.I. Raiders notes: B.C. final all set, fans never doubted

NANAIMO – The V.I. Raiders and the Langley Rams take to the field at Caledonia Park this Saturday (Oct. 27) for the BCFC championship game.

Langley Rams receiver Nate White

Langley Rams receiver Nate White

One team will hoist a trophy and host the Canadian Bowl. The other will wonder, what if?

The V.I. Raiders and the Langley Rams take to the field at Caledonia Park this Saturday (Oct. 27) for the B.C. Football Conference championship game.

Ever since the teams tied 31-31 back in Week 2 of the season, it’s seemed a sure bet that they were on a collision course for the BCFC final.

“It was pretty clear that we were definitely going to be the top two teams, battling it out,” said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, Raiders coach.

And that’s what will happen. The Raiders defeated the Okanagan Sun 34-8 in one semifinal, while the Rams shut out the Westshore Rebels 33-0 in the other. So both combatants are on a roll, as tends to be the case in any championship game.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum right now,” said Glenn Boyce, Raiders linebacker. “Everybody’s excited, everybody’s really confident. But it’s a one-game season right now.”

The Raiders and Rams kick off Saturday at 1 p.m. at Caledonia Park. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students and will be available at the gate. Children aged five and under will be admitted free. For more ticket information, please click here.

For a preview of Saturday’s final, please pick up Thursday’s print issue of the News Bulletin, or check back that day at www.nanaimobulletin.com/sports.

Raiders fan never doubted

The Raiders wouldn’t be hosting the B.C. final if they hadn’t come up with a clutch performance in the second half of last Saturday’s semifinal against the Okanagan Sun.

A plodding first half by the Raiders’ offence in that game had the home team trailing 8-3 at halftime, and some spectators might have been a little antsy. But one fan, in particular, never had any doubts.

“The first half, everyone was kind of worried in the stands, but I said, ‘Snoop soon will figure it out; he always does,'” said Andrew Harris, B.C. Lions tailback and Raiders alumnus. “It worked out.”

Defensive backs will be tested

The V.I. Raiders pride themselves on their depth, and it will sure be tested the rest of these playoffs.

The team isn’t exactly injury-ravaged, but many its injuries seem to be at the same position, the defensive backfield.

Already missing Erling Skuggedal, two other DBs, Cole Bishop and Kurtis Bardua, were hurt last week. It isn’t to the Raiders’ advantage to offer injury updates, but fans can expect to see some lineup tweaks. At practice Tuesday at least one player who usually plays offence was taking reps with the DBs.

“We’ve done a fairly good job of being able to plunk different people in all year and they’ve stepped up to the table and played within the system…” said Blokker. “Come Saturday, whoever’s in has to run the system and then ball out and that’s what we feel we’re going to do.”

Home field always an advantage

For the V.I. Raiders, Caledonia Park is perfect for playoff football. As the weather gets wet, the grass field becomes a mucky marsh, and any team used to artificial turf is bound to get bogged down.

“Maybe the track and the field and everything else really allow us to compete with such a fast all-star-style team,” Blokker said. “So having it at our park in front of our fans is a big thing for us.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com