The V.I. Raiders were explosive on offence and dominant on defence. They flattened another opponent. And they don’t think they played anywhere near their capabilities.
The Raiders won their home opener against the Kamloops Broncos 60-7 on Saturday at Caledonia Park.
“I didn’t like the way we played, regardless of the score,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach. “We have to play a certain way and we have to establish a mentality and we have to be sharp.”
The V.I. team felt it was a little off its game in the first quarter, caught up in the excitement of the home opener.
“We were a little fired up and we just needed to relax. Taking a couple of bad penalties didn’t help us,” said Jordan Yantz, Raiders quarterback. “When we go out there and we just play football and have fun doing it, that’s when we play our best. I thought we were just trying way too hard in the first half.”
So even though the Raiders were up 22-0 at halftime, Yantz said they “got a little bit of a strip torn out of us” in the locker room by the coaching staff.
A third-quarter interception by V.I. linebacker Glenn Boyce on his own five-yard line was a momentum changer, as the offence drove the ball the rest of the way down the field and Jordan Botel capped the drive with a one-yard rushing TD.
Broncos running back Mike McMaster gave credit to the “well-rounded” Raiders, his former team, but said his Broncos didn’t bring their best on Saturday.
“We had a long bus ride, got off the bus and tried to play a game,” McMaster said. “Different terms, we’d probably do a little bit better.”
The Raiders got off to a 14-0 lead through one quarter as Yantz scored two rushing majors.
After the Broncos surrendered a safety to start the second quarter, Raiders receiver Dustin Pedersen was left wide open on the far sideline and scored a 25-yard catch-and-run TD.
After Botel’s major extended the lead in the third quarter, the Broncos started the fourth quarter with a TD catch. But the Raiders dominated from there, outscoring the Broncos 31-1 the rest of the way. Whitman Tomusiak made a 20-yard touchdown catch, then fullback Ashton Galloway used a mix of power running and speed to score a 58-yard TD.
Yantz stayed in the game in pursuit of a B.C. Football Conference career touchdowns record and got the record-setting TD on a 26-yard pass to Tomusiak.
A blocked kick by Erling Skuggedal set up a short touchdown run by Taylor Flavel and then James Riley’s second fumble recovery of the quarter set up a short field goal by Mark Mueller.
Blokker said although some of the mistakes like dropped balls were aberrations, he still plans to run the Raiders hard at practice this week and try to get the team’s game as crisp as possible.
“We still put up 60 points and we still got the two points, so we’re happy with that,” Galloway said. “But we’ve got to come out harder next week and just keep working.”
Yantz finished the game 17-of-33 for 316 yards, while Botel was the game’s leading rusher with 16 carries for 112 yards. Mike Schaper had four catches for 96 yards and Pedersen had five catches for 81 yards. Ranji Atwall – wearing jersey No. 2 for the first time to honour former teammate Rhys Coppens – had eight tackles and a forced fumble. Adam Laurensse had five tackles and three knockdowns and Boyce had a sack and a forced fumble to go with his INT.
GAME ON … The Raiders play the Chilliwack Huskers on Sunday (Aug. 21) in the Fraser Valley … To see another action photo from Saturday’s game, please pick up Tuesday’s print issue of the News Bulletin … In other CJFL action Saturday, the Okanagan Sun edged the Langley Rams 15-14 in the Valley and the Westshore Rebels doubled up the Huskers 28-14 in Victoria.