V.I. Raiders strap on pads for spring camp

The Vancouver Island Raiders’ spring camp will be a bit more of an exclusive affair this year. But it should still be as competitive and intense as ever.

“We have some top-notch guys coming in that we feel can really put us over the top,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team will have 80-90 players training at Nanaimo District Secondary School starting Friday (May 13). In past years, the Raiders have had close to 150 bodies at spring camp, but decided to switch things up this time, for a few reasons.

“We had so many returning players that we feel very confident in,” said Blokker.

As well, the team’s primary competition – the Okanagan Sun and the Langley Rams – are holding their spring camp this weekend, too, so top prospects had to make up their mind already where they want to play in 2011.

“The players that you got to come to your camp now are really committed,” Blokker said. “They’ve already made their choice to be a Raider and now we want to get a little more in-depth into what we do.

“We’re going to be a little bit more into our playbooks than we have in the past. We think we’re the only team that’s really doing it this way and it might give us a great opportunity to get a head start.”

As always, guest coaches will play a role on the weekend. The big name rumoured to be coming to town Sunday is B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay. Confirmed Lions guest coaches are Angus Reid, Jason Arakgi, Jon Hameister-Ries, Andrew Jones and Frank Gore.

The annual spring camp intrasquad game will be Sunday at 1 p.m. at the NDSS field.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com