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V.I. Raiders’ team-building starts with spring camp

Nanaimo’s junior football team getting prepared for summer season
Cody Harper tries for a tackle on Harman Ahuja during a drill at V.I. Raiders spring camp Sunday, May 29, at NDSS Community Field. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

The V.I. Raiders started gaining yardage as they progress toward their next B.C. Football Conference season.

Nanaimo’s junior football team held its spring camp this past weekend, May 28-29, at NDSS Community Field, and Curtis Vizza, the team’s coach, said he was happy with what he saw.

“We have high expectations and they’ve met them,” he said. “There’s been a lot of off-season work with our returning guys and the ones coming in are really pushing our veteran players to be better.”

The Raiders will have a different look this year as veteran quarterback Jake LaBerge has graduated and so the team will have a new starting quarterback. It’s way too early for the Raiders to make any decisions on that front, but Ben Chomolok of the Ballenas Whalers program was one guy who impressed management at spring camp. Vizza mentioned the running backs as a potential strength area for the team and said the offensive line appears to be generally big and mean. And the Raiders will also have a new offensive coordinator, as former U Sports player Travis Gorski takes over from Colin Pippy, who will be quarterbacks coach.

Vizza said some of the changes will make for a “new and different” look for the Raiders’ offence.

“We’re going to play to the strengths of who we have,” he said. “After camp, when we know who we have coming, we get to look at what we have for skills and strengths and adapt and adjust to what we think will be best for what we have.”

V.I.’s defence, said the coach, has players at all positions who are fast, athletic and hungry.

The Raiders recognize that other junior football teams have also been holding spring camps and know that some players will have choices about where to sign. Even still, they consider the players who were at camp this past weekend to be Raiders, if they want to be.

At the end of camp, players were given feedback from position coaches about things to work on, but Vizza noted that this time of year means that out-of-town players need to be thinking about jobs, accommodations, sponsorships and the like.

“They’ve got some work to do leading up to training camp, but we’re in a good position with the community to get things set up for everyone,” Vizza said.

Signing day is Wednesday, June 1, the Raiders will hold main camp in early July and the BCFC season starts July 23.

READ ALSO: V.I. Raiders shut out in semifinal, eliminated from playoffs

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Greg Sakaki

About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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