The V.I. Raiders were winners on the weekend, and they enjoyed it. But they don’t always want to be in the position where they have to merely hang on for a one-point victory.
Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team was immediately trying to take lessons out of Saturday’s thrilling 30-29 win over the Okanagan Sun at Caledonia Park.
Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, Raiders coach, said one of the reasons why his team was successful was because it stuck together. Players supported their teammates and coaches coached rather than yelled, making for a positive sideline.
“Our spirits are high, and the fact of it is now we can see the difference between sticking together and falling apart,” he said.
Mike Schaper, Raiders receiver, said the win over the Sun creates momentum, but said his team needs to pay attention to both the positive and negative plays in that game.
“We got the win, we played hard, we played like brothers, we came together,” he said. “But at the same time we had a lot of mistakes, obvious mistakes … There’s always room to improve.”
Ashton Galloway, Raiders running back, said his team was rewarded for keeping hope and sticking together.
“It’s definitely going to put us on the right track and make us realize that we have a lot of work to do,” he said.
And the Raiders are willing to take the “long road,” said Rockenson Angrand, defensive back.
“We’re going to let it come to us,” he said. “We’re just going to take it one game at a time, stay focused, stay consistent. It’s going to be a long journey but we accept that.”
Blokker said he expects his team to return to the practice field energized by last weekend’s thriller.
“We’re not afraid to work hard and I think right now you’re going to see the tempo of this team go up,” said the coach. “That’s how you start to build a swagger and that’s how you start to feel good about coming to practice and practice starts to become fun.”
GAME ON … The Raiders (2-0-1) face the Kamloops Broncos (1-2) on Saturday (Aug. 25) at 7 p.m … Dom Abassi will call the game live via free webcast at www.viraiders.ca … The Raiders then have a bye before their next home game Sept. 8 versus the Chilliwack Huskers.