The V.I. Raiders were able to end the regular season the right way as they get ready to try to raise their game for playoffs.
The Raiders (5-5) defeated the Valley Huskers 13-6 in B.C. Football Conference action Saturday at Caledonia Park.
“It was probably not the way we planned it, but a win’s a win,” said Tyler Hill, Raiders linebacker. “And at the end of the day it was nice to end the season on a positive with two points going into the playoffs.”
The Raiders started off well as quarterback Cole McGarvey connected with receiver Alex Bonnetplume for a 10-yard TD reception in the first quarter, but that would be the home team’s only major on the day. V.I.’s other points came on two conceded safeties and a 30-yard field goal from Nik Hunchak. Andre Goulbourne rushed for 93 yards and Mike West had six catches for 79 yards. McGarvey finished 13-for-32 passing for 164 yards with one TD and one INT.
The Huskers didn’t score on offence as their six points came on a fumble-recovery touchdown off a punt block in the second quarter.
Net offence was 265-13 in favour of the Raiders.
Hill led V.I.’s defence with an interception and a sack, Ethan Moran and Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty also had interceptions and Nick Robinson had three sacks. Matt Hill had four tackles and a sack and Blake Johnson had a fumble recovery.
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“Our defence played extremely well. A very dominant defensive performance,” said Curtis Vizza, Raiders coach. “Coming out of the bye week, [we were] healthier but we were a little out of sync. [It will take] more of us putting time in, going back to what we’re good at and what got us to this point.”
The Raiders didn’t find out their playoff opponent until a day later, when Westshore Rebels defeated the Okanagan Sun in Victoria. The result meant that the standings remained the same and the third-place Raiders will travel to take on the second-place Rebels (8-2) in the semis.
“We would love to play Victoria in Victoria,” said Vizza before the matchup was finalized. “For them to beat us three times in one year would be, I think, pretty tough and we know what to expect with Victoria.”
Hill, one of 14 graduating Raiders players, said his team plans to raise its game a level for the playoffs.
“I’ve been on a lot of teams and really feel like this is a special group … We love coming to practice, we love coming to work,” he said. “So I’m excited for that and I’m excited for the opportunity to take one last go at it.”
GAME ON … The Raiders and Rebels play Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. at Westhills Stadium in Langford.