Week 4 Preview
Three Saturday night games on tap as both the Huskers and Broncos look for their elusive first win while the Okanagan Sun attempt to stay perfect against the inconsistent VI Raiders. Do the Rams and Rebels avoid an upset?
Saturday, Aug 13 @7PM
Westshore Rebels (2-1) @ Kamloops Broncos (0-3)
Lifetime head to head: Rebels lead series 17-6
The Broncos are still looking for their first win of the season and might be in tough hosting what is sure to be an angry Rebel club coming off its first loss last weekend. The visitors have lost 5 straight to Kamloops and will be looking to silence the home town “Bronco stomp” early.
Expect Ashton McKinnon to get the start at QB for the Rebels after he replaced Scott Borden who was largely ineffective in his start against the Sun last weekend. The big and physical McKinnon threw for 153 yards and a TD in addition to rushing for another 33 and a major. That said, the fast track at Hillside Stadium will suit the Rebels running game and the Broncos defense should expect a healthy dose of the top running game in the conference. Rebels running back Jamel Lyles who leads the conference didn’t carry the ball nearly as much against the Sun (13 carries 121 yards and a TD) as he did the previous weekend in the win over the VI Raiders. Between Lyles and Trey Campbell. who didn’t see the ball against the Sun the Broncos should expect to see run left, run right and run middle Saturday night.
The winless Broncos are coming off a blowout in Langley, a game which saw them fail to break the 200 yards of offense barrier. Offensively they rank last or second last in every category both offense and defense and will be looking to improve if they hope to get into the win column. The Broncos collectively have rushed for 170 yards compared to the Rebels Lyles who leads the conference with 459 yards.
The Kamloops Broncos have arguably the best stadium in the CJFL, between the sight lines of the valley and the field and the cozy stadium it’s tough to beat Hillside Stadium on the university campus. This season the Broncos have added preferred seating for Bronco home fans making it an even better fan experience. The Bronco players will be counting on a loud home field support Saturday night
Players to watch
Broncos QB Colby Henkel: He has contributed 468 of the Broncos 636 yards as he leads his team with 117 rushing yards in addition to 351 in the air. The Broncos will be looking to help their QB out but they will likely go as far as his arm and legs carry them.
Rebels RB Jamel Lyles: He will be getting the ball early and often. If the Broncos don’t at least slow him down, they will be in for a long night.
Saturday, August 13 @ 7PM
VI Raiders (2-1) @ Okanagan Sun (3-0)
Lifetime head to head: Raiders lead series 15-9
A rematch of last season’s BCFC championship won 54-0 by the Sun. The Sun is coming off its most impressive performance of the short season in dispatching the Rebels in the club’s home opener. In a physical game the Sun jumped out to a 17-0 lead before grinding out a pounding second half run game led by Brenden Hansen (18 carries for 99 yards). As effective as the Sun running game was, the offense was balanced against the Rebels, 237 passing and 207 rushing so the Raiders defense will be challenged to key on any one area.
If the Sun are getting better the Raiders by comparison are having trouble finding their rhythm. After suffering its first ever loss to its rival Westshore Rebels you would have expected them to come out charging at home against the winless Huskers. Instead, a flat first half saw the club in a 17-0 hole that could have been worse. If the Raiders start slow at the Apple Bowl this won’t be their night.
The Sun has won 5 straight regular season games against the Raiders, outscoring them 35-7 in the process with the Raiders last Apple Bowl win in 2012.
Players to watch
Sun RB Brenden Hansen; More than one observer remarked Hansen has a running style similar to one of the Sun’s all-time greats Jeff Halvorson. His 156 all-purpose yards against the Rebels were key last weekend, especially in the second half as the Sun seemed determined to run the ball down the heart of its opponent.
Raiders REC Dustin Rodriguez; Rodriguez leads the conference with 302 yards receiving. The Raiders will likely be in tough rushing the ball against the #1 run defense in the league so will be counting on Rodriguez to capitalize against a Sun secondary that has been inconsistent thus far.
Saturday, August 13 @ 7PM
Valley Huskers (0-3) @ Langley Rams (2-1)
Lifetime head to head; Rams lead series 26-9
Game two of the season series between the valley rivals, with the Rams drubbing the Huskers 39-0 two weeks ago. The Rams streak over the Huskers now at 21 consecutive games.
Huskers quarterback Noah Falconer has thrown for every one of his club’s 676 yards and is the only passer in the league to have accomplished this feat. The Huskers surprisingly lead the conference in passing yards per game (225). Conversely the passing game is getting little support from the ground game (28 YPG).
The Rams had a tough opening weekend loss against the Rebels and while they have had the benefit of feasting on the combined 0-6 Huskers and Broncos the past two weeks, they have looked impressive on both sides of the ball. They will be looking to flex their muscles again this week as they play the Raiders twice and the Sun once the following three weeks.
Players to watch
Rams RB Nathan Lund was expected to be a workhorse for his club this year and challenge for the league rushing title. His 9.8 average is impressive but he has only carried the ball 15 times through 3 games. It will be interesting to watch if the Huskers see more of Lund this weekend.
Huskers receiver Blake Draper is his club’s all-time leader statistically and in his final season was likely like Lund expected to lead his team. He has just 10 receptions for 83 yards so far in 2016. If the one dimensional Huskers offense is going to put a dent in the Rams defense they will need production from their veteran receiver.