Story and images by Erich Eichhorn
July 6,2014 Victoria, BC (ISN) – The newly retooled Westshore Rebels football team held their main training camp Saturday and Sunday in preparation for their 2014 BCFC season just around the corner and three weeks away.
Brandon Nelms gets the worst of the tackle breaking his chin strap, and fortunately not his jaw, with this recievers offensive hit – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Rebels players were out in force at Westhills Stadium in full gear ready to pop, tackle, and run at each other fighting for a starting spot on the newly rebuilt team. After a spring camp full of local talent, the Rebels organization has also recently caught the eyes of some import talent from the mainland to bolster the aspiring Westshore team. With no fewer than 18 rookies on the team, the Rebels needed to find enough experience to mentor the rookie talent, and to help keep pace with other BCFC teams.
Michael Chaves reaches over the top just at the right moment to knock down the pass from Lake – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
If you looked for the coach responsible for rebuilding the Rebels organization on the field, you might expect to see a coach with the weight of the world on his shoulders. In coach Axhorn’s case nothing could be more to the contrary. According to Rebels Coach Axhorn, ten import players from Vancouver have made the trip across the pond to take part in the main camp and support the teams 2014 bid, all to the delight of the Westshore Rebels organization.
Rebels players take a knee hinging on words of wisdom from freshman Rebels head coach Andrew Axhorn – Erich Eichhorn (www.allsportmedia.ca)
With those new recruits it is hard not to sense the enthusiasm and excitement in Coach Axhorn’s voice. “I’m so excited about the season. The player’s are excited. Even Jesse Newman, he was excited. It’s just good to see the excitement (on the team). There is a lot of good things happening here. These guys are ready to go.” Jesse Newman, a former Rebels guard Newman, played five seasons in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders and the B.C. Lions, will be the guest coach assisting Coach Axhorn.
Rebels recievers were in high praise in Coach Axhorn’s book after a weekend training camp at Westhills Stadium – Erich Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
QB Hunter Lake will have some large targets to throw to this season such as this Rebels receiver – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Asked to review his teams offensive and defensive performance this weekend, Axhorn would comment first about his standouts on offense. “Apparently I have some really, really good receivers. The receiving core stepped up big today. It’s a shame I have some injured running backs and QB’s, but it’s good to get those kinks out of the way.” The Rebels have most notably seen the return of the agile Hunter Lake. Sliding over from receiver last year to take the QB helm after injuries to the then starting QB’s Mark Black and Mike Dumesnil, Lake looks to help make a difference this year. Lake, with his running talents evident last year, will take turns at slot back, while also helping fill in at the QB position. Last year he was thrust into a position he had not played since his midget days he would confide to ISN in an interview last year. With a year under his belt at the QB position, the 6’-2, 230lb pivot, is sure to be a difference maker.
QB Hunter Lake takes a dive into the endzone after scrambing for big yards to account for the first of two touchdowns by the Rebels offense – Erich Eichhorn (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Asked about the prospect of being thrust back into a pressure position, as QB, to lead the offense, a humble Lake would comment, “now we have so many guys who are just as willing to go gung-ho just every other guy next to them.” Last year was kind of a downer near the end of the season we lost guys (due to injury) and started to fall apart. These guys are going to carry me just as much as I try to carry them. These guys are so devoted. I’m not worried at all.”
Lake will QB the Rebels this season in his second year of Rebels play since his midget years – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
A latecomer to training camp, the decision was not an easy one to make for Lake, who resides in Vancouver. When asked about his late decision to join the team the 20-year old Lake would explain, “Adult life is hard on the mainland. Going to school, having a job, I had to figure out how to quit that without getting into trouble. Soon as I figured that out, I was playing football.”
The Rebels defense looked very strong and relentless to the ball during scrimmage Sunday afternoon. Size does not appear to be an issue for the Rebels this season with the likes of 6’-3”, 280 lb DL Tyson Morison, 6’-2” 280 centre Kyle Smith, and 6’-3” 280lb Peter Allan to manhandle the opposing team. “The defense needs to just stick to the fundamentals. There were a lot of good things seen, and there were some breakdowns. In retrospect, the defense only gave up two touchdowns in an almost two hour long scrimmage, so that’s pretty darn good”, coach Axhorn would evaluate.
A swarming Rebels defense is sure to punish their opponents across the ball this season if Sunday’s scrimmage was any indication – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
LB Chris Pastro lines up receiver Griffin Dear. Pastro led hi defensive core through example with some punishing hits – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Rebels first test of the season will be an away game versus the Kamloops Broncos on July 26th, and Coach Axhorn has no concern about the readiness of his team. “They’re ready to go. They’re excited. When they get to Kamloops they’re going to explode. If any teams think they’re going to just walk over us, they are in for a big surprise.”