V.I. Raiders playoff-ready

NANAIMO – The V.I. Raiders and Kamloops Broncos kick off Saturday at 1 p.m. at Caledonia Park.

The Raiders should be ready for playoffs – they’ve had a must-win mentality for weeks now.

Ever since the Vancouver Island Raiders lost back-to-back games in early August to fall to 1-2, they’ve felt as though their backs were against the wall. Seven straight wins later, they finished the regular season in their familiar first-place perch. This Saturday (Oct. 12) they try to carry that momentum into the playoffs and a semifinal matchup against the Kamloops Broncos.

“Our coaches have kind of been in a playoff mentality for the last six weeks now, so I don’t think it’s going to change much,” said Jaeden Marwick, Raiders quarterback.

The attitude doesn’t change, perhaps, but absolutely the stakes are different. The Raiders have never lost to the Broncos, but if they do, football season is done.

“As a team, now we understand it’s do or die,” Marwick said.

Most aware of that fact are the Raiders’ graduating 22-year-olds, such as offensive lineman Tyler Oldendorf.

“If you lose you’re done. Nobody wants to lose in your last year,” he said. “I feel that everybody’s going to be good going into the playoffs. A lot of our veteran guys have played in national finals [and semifinals] and I feel we’re ready to take this thing all the way.”

The Raiders (8-2) go into the post-season with an advantage over the rest of the competition in the B.C. Football Conference. The second-place Okanagan Sun (8-2) and the third-place Langley Rams (7-3) both finished well ahead of the fourth-place Broncos (2-7-1).

“It gives us an opportunity to play the fourth-place team to host the B.C. final. So we couldn’t ask for a better situation…” said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, Raiders coach. “And let’s be honest about it. Langley and Okanagan have got to go beat the crap out of each other and I’m going to enjoy watching that one on Sunday up there.”

GAME ON … The Raiders and Broncos kick off Saturday at 1 p.m. at Caledonia Park … The Cullen Cup B.C. championship game will be played Oct. 19 at the home park of the highest-seeded finalist.