The VI Raiders have long dominated the Victoria/Westshore Rebels, not having lost to their southern neighbor until this season. The Raiders are a perfect 11-0 at Caledonia but that streak of perfection has never been more fragile than this weekend.
The Nanaimo based Raiders have lost 3 of their last 4 games, while the Rebels are the hottest team in the conference now with 4 straight wins. As we said last week, the Raiders are looking for some level of confidence but after being largely dominated in Langley that will be difficult to muster against a Rebels side that will be oozing confidence.
The Raiders will see a bit of a different look offensively from the Rebels in terms of what they saw in the previous 45-22 Rebels win in Langford. While Jamel Lyles will be back to try and duplicate the monster 270 yard performance on the ground from that game, the quarterback will be different. While the Rebels had platooned the duo of Ashton MacKinnon and Scott Borden on most other games, Borden took every snap against Vancouver Island. The 6’7 MacKinnon presents a definite physical challenge to the Raiders.
The Okanagan Sun proved last week effort that it is possible to at least contain the running duo of Lyles and Campbell to force the passing game to win the game. MacKinnon and company proved they are equal to that challenge.
The porous Rebel secondary proved to be just that again last week and can give an opposing offense opportunities. Fortunately for the Rebels last ranked pass defense (286 YPG), they are facing a Raiders passing attack that is dead last in the conference at 192 YPG clip. Over the past 11 years the underdog Rebels had many opportunities to upset the league leading VI Raiders and were never able to turn the trick. Can the Raiders fare better in that role?
Players to watch
Rebels DB Brody Uddenberg
This 5 year veteran of the Rebels secondary is a native of Nanaimo who joined his hometown team’s rival to attend college post high school. He has endured 4 years of losing in Nanaimo and will be looking for a big performance in his final game at Caledonia Park.
Rebels DL Kent Hicks
The Raiders gave up 9 sacks last weekend to the Rams. Hicks and company no doubt took note and will be looking to give Raiders quarterback Jacob Laberge fits.
Raiders QB Jacob Laberge
Pressure like the rookie Laberge faced last weekend in Langley can be overwhelming to a young passer. Laberge is a good athlete who can make plays with his feet as well as his arm and will likely be called on to do more of the same this weekend. That said, the Rebels front 7 isn’t going to present the challenge that the Rams did.
Raiders LB Dexter Shea
The leader of the Raiders defense will need to have a huge game if his team is going to limit the conference’s best offense.