V.I. Raiders show character at camp

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team held its main camp Thursday through Monday at Campbell River.

V.I. Raiders running back Andrew Deleon is stopped by teammate Ash Gayat during a scrimmage Saturday evening at the Campbell River Sportsplex. Main camp wraps Monday (July 22).

V.I. Raiders running back Andrew Deleon is stopped by teammate Ash Gayat during a scrimmage Saturday evening at the Campbell River Sportsplex. Main camp wraps Monday (July 22).

The V.I. Raiders did what they needed to do at camp – they learned.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team held its main camp Thursday through Monday at Campbell River in preparation for the start of the regular season this Saturday (July 27).

The team brought more than 80 players up Island.

“There’s a lot of new guys, so it’s a lot of everyone getting the feel of the Raider way and it’s a lot of everyone learning their stuff,” said Taylor Flavel, running back.

He pointed out that it’s not just the young players who are finding things out – returnees like himself are figuring out how to now be the leaders.

“So it’s a learning process for everyone, this camp,” Flavel said.

Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, the team’s coach, said he and his staff can find out a lot about their group of guys over the course of a five-day main camp.

“You get to learn a lot of their personalities and how competitive they are and how they express their competitive nature, which is really important to your team structure,” Blokker said. “We’re excited because there’s a lot of real character guys here.”

He said by midway through the camp, certain players had been re-cast into different positions, and certain players had solidified positions.

“There’s definitely guys here that are guaranteed starting right now; they’ve earned their role,” he said.

Dylan Chapdelaine, veteran linebacker, said players were really “firing it up” by midway through main camp.

“We’re finally getting all the plays set in and everyone’s starting to get it,” he said. “Everyone’s starting to click and we’re seeing some good things.”

Blokker said the coaches challenged players every day, and guys rose to the challenge.

“It’s a process right now but we’re seeing great team improvement right now,” said the coach. “Guys are working hard.”

GAME ON … The Raiders kick off the season Saturday in Victoria against the Westshore Rebels. Game time is 7 p.m. at Bear Mountain Stadium.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com