Week 9 BCFC Preview
We are just two weekends away from wrapping up the regular season and all three games have interesting, if not critical implications.
The Play-off teams are set in the Raiders, Rebels, Rams and Sun. The Raiders will finish in fourth place as they cannot catch the three teams ahead of them.
The Rams and Rebels each control their own play-off destiny. If either wins their remaining two games they finish in first and have home field advantage through the play-offs.
The Okanagan Sun can still finish in first place if they win both their remaining games against the Raiders and Rams and the Rebels lose one of their two remaining against the Rams or Kamloops Broncos
Saturday, Sept 24 @ 7PM
Hillside Stadium, Kamloops
Valley Huskers (0-8) @ Kamloops Broncos (1-7)
Lifetime head to head: Broncos lead series 15-10-1
Previous game stats Broncos 30 Huskers 23
We start with the final game of the night, as it has no implications come play-off time.
Two weeks ago things were looking up in Chilliwack as the Huskers had played pretty well overall in back to back losses to the conference leading Westshore Rebels. Second half collapses were costing the club, but this could be chalked up to a young team and short bench. Couple that with an effective passing attack, and all in all things were as positive as could be expected in the camp of an 0-6 football team.
Then came a last minute loss to the Broncos at Exhibition Stadium, a game in which the Huskers were likely counting on to win. Last week the Huskers were blanked 35-0 by the Winnipeg Rifles in a downpour that limited the only chance they had to win when it slowed, if not assisted in shutting down completely the passing game. If it’s raining and a strong run game is required, the Huskers are going to come out on the losing end.
On the flip side, the Broncos perhaps were feeling less positive about themselves heading into its meeting with the Huskers. Winning that night, followed up by at least a decent game that was closer than the score indicated last weekend with the Langley Rams, (34-10 Rams on the strength of two late touchdowns) and the Broncos are likely feeling confident heading into this game. Hard for a 1-7 team to have swagger, but it’s likely the confidence level of the home team is higher than it will be for the visitors.
The Broncos will be looking for a quick start to put a Huskers team that fades in the stretch away early. Interesting though that the Broncos are not known for the ability to put points on the board early in the game. In last weekend’s loss to the Rams, they scored an opening quarter touchdown for the first time this season.
This is the final game of the year at one of the best junior stadiums in the country. Hopefully the Bronco stomp is out in full force.
Players to watch
Falconer leads the conference in passing yards and will be looking to bounce back from his worst game of the season. He managed just 102 yards, albeit in a downpour against the Rifles. This was the first time all season a Husker quarterback other than Falconer attempted a pass, as his backup RJ Begg, went 0-4 on the afternoon.
We picked both quarterbacks the first time these teams met and since they live and die by the pass for the most part we will stick with that theme this week.
Henkel trails Falconer by just 116 yards so this game will go a long way to determining who comes out ahead in the passing yardage derby. He had a solid game last week against the Rams (20 of 35, 254 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT). He has just one game with multiple interceptions this season. A solid campaign for this rookie.
Saturday, September 24 @ 2PM
Caledonia Stadium, Nanaimo
Okanagan Sun (6-2) @ VI Raiders (3-4-1)
Lifetime head to head: Raiders lead series 15-10
The VI Raiders put together what was likely their best effort of the season in last weekend’s tie with the first place Westshore Rebels. Although in his post game interview Raiders head coach Jerome Erdman seemed pretty dejected that his club might have let a win get away, he had to have been happy after a few hours or days to digest what his team accomplished.
His players oozed confidence in interviews in the week leading up to the game. Outside observers likely felt they were kidding themselves or even delusional in their assertions that they were as good a club as the Rebels based on the way the season had gone so far. Turns out this confidence was not without merit as the Raiders defense largely controlled the vaunted Westshore running game, while not letting Ashton Mackinnon and its passing game take over.
Rookie quarterback Jacob Laberge was solid on the day, although the rushing attack still isn’t going to instill fear into a defense.
Two weeks ago it appeared the Okanagan Sun would be riding high into Caledonia on the way to an undefeated or 9- win season. Fast forward and they are in desperate need of a win to hold onto a home play-off date and still need help to finish in first place. Their first loss of the season two weeks ago to the Rebels, while disappointing wasn’t the end of the world. They still held the tie breaker if they finished tied in the standings. You have to wonder though, about the psyche of the club after the 58-2 pounding administered to them by the Hilltops.
A game like that can be a season killer, or it can serve as a rallying point. This game will likely tell Sun head coach Ben Macauley all he needs to know on how the rest of the season is likely to go for his charges.
Caledonia used to be a brutal place for the Okanagan Sun, as they had failed to register a win in 9 attempts since the Raiders moved to Nanaimo from Victoria in 2005. The Sun have now won three straight games there (6 overall).
In the Raiders we have a team that cannot improve nor lose its 4th place standing, they can play pressure free football. In the Sun there is a club that might be reeling a bit and desperately needing a win for plenty of reasons.
Will the Raiders see a Sun club that lost its’ mojo or one that comes in angry and effective that existed just two weeks ago?
Players to watch
Sun receiver Rashaun Simonise
The University of Calgary standout who just missed making the Cincinnati Bengals wasn’t a factor last weekend as the Sun offense wasn’t able to get on track in any sense.
But rest assured he gives the Sun offense an entirely different look than the Raiders saw a few weeks ago at the Apple Bowl
Raiders QB Jacob Laberge
The VI rookie had a solid game August 13th in Kelowna (37-19 Sun). 11 of 22 passing for 212 yards and a touchdown was a decent afternoon’s work considering the pressure the Sun defense placed on him all day. He also gave the Sun defense fits with his feet in rushing for 36 yards and a touchdown. The Sun front 7 had a difficult time containing him.
When they finally did get their hands on him it was enough to cause him to miss his club’s game the following week against Langley.
The Caledonia faithful will be looking for another strong outing from Mr. Laberge if their team is to come out on top Saturday.
Saturday, September 24th at 4PM
Macleod Athletic Park
Westshore Rebels (6-1-1) @ Langley Rams (6-2)
Lifetime head to head; Rams lead series 32-13-2
It was way back in week one that these two teams clashed at Westhills Stadium in Langford. The new look Rebels were in full impressive display and looked in full control until a couple late Ram touchdowns narrowed the gap.
A win over the Rams, would in most eyes all but wrap up first place for the Rebels. With a season finale at home against the 1-8 Kamloops Broncos the following weekend it would be a monumental upset if the Broncos came out on top.
A Rams win however and things get all kinds of interesting as they travel to the Apple Bowl to take on the Sun in week 10 in a game that could decide first place. Or it could be for second place hosting rights the following week between the same two teams. Or it could mean…we are getting ahead of ourselves.
This is a game of the #1 offense of the Rebels (463 YPG) versus the #1 defense of the Rams at 252 YPG so something has to give. Coaches always pour over the video of the opponents previous game but no doubt this week the Rams will be taking an even closer look and perhaps phoning Raiders bench boss Jerome Erdman for advice. His club’s defensive schemes were the most successful yet this season in limiting the Rebels offense last weekend, specifically its running game (212 yards on 38 attempts for a manageable 5.6 yard average). The Rams defense is good against the run so this this will be a battle of wills and skills.
Both defenses will be seeing a different look from the respective offenses they face.
For the Rebels, Nathaniel Pinto has emerged as serious deep threat with 310 yards and 3 TDS on 9 receptions the past two games. That’s an impressive, if not scary 34 yard average.
For the Rams part, since Tommy Robertson took over at pivot two weeks ago its offense is showing effectiveness it rarely displayed the previous weeks. The Rebels secondary gives up yardage through the air at an alarming rate if you are a Rebel fan (292 yards per game). The visitors will be looking to improve on that or their first place aspirations will be in doubt
Players to watch
It might be a stretch to put a kicker here. As the old joke goes, they are not even really football players. We are making an assumption that a tough Rams defense is able to at least limit Jamel Lyles and the rest of the Rebels offense. That’s not as simple as it sounds of course. In addition to Lyles and his running mate Trey Campbell, the big and mobile Ashton Mackinnon has a noticeable deep threat we talked about above.
But the assumption here is that the Rams will succeed at least to a degree. If the Rebels offense doesn’t get into 4th gear this becomes a game of field position where punting is critical, and perhaps a last second field goal wins the game.
No one better than Docherty in the BCFC if it comes down to that.
Rebels RB Jamel Lyles
He appeared a lock to break the conference rushing record of 1592 yards (Matt Medwick, Valley Huskers in 2000).
His 196 yard total the last two games equates to a 98 yard per game average, well below the 158 he has managed overall this season. He has eclipsed 200 yards on three occasions and if he does it again the Rebels likely win.
If he doesn’t, this game could be a pick ‘em and Medwick’s record could stand another year.
BCFC Single Season Rushing Record
Yards Name Year Team Carries AVG TD
1592 Matt Medwick 2000 Valley Huskers 246 6.5 13
1496 Greg Morris 2012 Westshore Rebels 147 10.1 14
1476 Andrew Harris 2009 VI Raiders 102 14.4 20
1334 Eric Scott 1985 Richmond Raiders 150 8.9 14
1262 Jamel Lyles 2016 Westshore Rebels 150 8.4 11