Story and images by Erich Eichhorn
October 4th, 2014 Naniamo, BC (ISN) – Island BCFC rivals went their separate ways Saturday at Caledonia Field in Naniamo when the Vancouver Island Raiders and the Westshore Rebels played their 2014 regular season finale with the Raiders dominating the Rebels by a score of 48-7.
The VI Raiders defeated the Westshore Rebels in Naniamo at Caledonia Field 48-7 to close out the regular season – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
For both teams the game was a mute point in the final regular season standings, but, as in most competitive sports, pride takes precedence over points, and the Rebels and Raiders looked to put their best foot forward in what was the final regular season BCFC career game for players on both sides.
The Raiders tied up a fourth place playoff berth last weekend with a win over the Kamloops Broncos, while a Rebels loss to the last place Chilliwack Huskers closed the door on any possible playoff hopes for the newly retooled Langford team.
Raiders Ash Gayat would block this Hunter Lake pass attempt. Lake would have limited success downfield against the stingy Raiders secondary – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
If we flash back to the off season, both teams were not without preseason troubles. The Rebels, in apparent financial dire straits, needed players, new coaching staff, and community support to make a viable attempt to keep the team alive. Under the direction of first year president Elise Pastro, the Rebels organization was able to provide the south island team a pulse and a chance to compete at the highest junior level in the country, the CJFL. With guarded expectations, and a Rebel effort, the Westshore team put their heart out on the field one last time in the season. For the Raiders, making the playoffs is a testament to the organization. After loosing their longtime, winning coach Matt “Snoop” Blokker, and a host of graduating players, the Raiders haven’t skipped a beat since finding ex-CFLer Head Coach Brian Ridgeway.
A bright spot in the Rebels offense, QB Hunter Lake would lead his team in passing and rushing – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Raiders O’Brien was this close from the ball being stripped mid-throw, but turns it into a touchdown throw instead – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Raiders, preparing for the post season, would jump out early when on their first possession when QB Liam O’Brien would hand the ball to Michael Ritchott. Ritchott would find an open seam in a sea of Rebels defenseman after breaking three tackles, and run 62 yards to the end zone to set the tone for the game. Rebels QB Hunter Lake, unrattled by the Raiders early score, would find an answer, after marching his team downfield, in a 29 yard touchdown pass to Nick Spindor to even the score.
Rebels Braeden Swatez on the return against the VI Raiders – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Rebels Brandon Nelms ties up ball carrier Nathan Berg. Berg would score a TD early in the second quarter for go up 27-7 – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Raiders, not about to give the Rebels a “gimme” game, turned up their offence. Despite some undisciplined play that would benefit the Rebels field position, the Raiders would find the house an additional two more times before the end of the first quarter to go up 20-7 on touchdowns by Alex Kutra, and O’Brien on a QB keeper to assert their lead.
Raiders QB O’Brien straight arms Rebels Jordan Andrews to prevent the loss of yards – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Rebels offensive line, unable to keep the Raiders at bay, would find themselves frequently in a three and out situation in the second, giving up field position to a team that has shown it can put point on the board in a hurry. After 2yd TD by Nathan Berg, Raiders O’Brien would go to Marshall Cook for a 48 yard TD. Rebels Lake would find some success in the legs of RB Johnny Quan. Slashing his way through the slightest of cracks, Quan would help move his team for short yardage. Unable to find a receiver or the end zone in the quarter, the Rebels would find themselves down 34-7 going into the locker room at the half.
Johnny Quan take the pass from Lake on the out to the sideline – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Johnny Quan couldn’t run through the defense on this attempt as Raiders converge on the ball carrier – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Rebels Braeden Swartez would start the second half off recovering a Raiders fumble in a brief, positive defensive glimmer. From that point the Raider’s Marshall Cook would close the door in the game, inflicting the rest of the damage on the Rebels with two more touchdowns, highlighted by an 82 yard TD catch to open the scoring in the 2nd half. Cook would finish the game with three touchdowns over approximately 160 yards receiving.
Tanner Rodinsky applies some defensive pressure on a Raider O-lineman. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Both teams would be unable to score in the final quarter. The Raiders would enjoy a 48-7 win. Liam O’Brien would finish the season with 171 pass completions for 2842 yards. That is the fourth most in BCFC history.
Congratulations to the VI Raiders for making it the the post season to represent Vancouver Island in the British Columbia Football Conference. They travel to the Okanagan to take on the #1 seed Suns.