July 9, 2017 Langford, BC (ISN) – The Cullen Cup Champion Westshore Rebels football team, with intentions firmly set on another BCFC championship season, closed main camp Sunday in a weekend-long display of what Lower Vancouver Island football fans can eagerly expect to see come their home opener August 19th, 2017 at Westhills Stadium.
Despite the loss of key coaching staff and graduating players, it would appear that the team is well in hand under the mentorship of new Head Coach Charly Cardilicchia. Cardilicchia, tirelessly recruiting across Canada in the off season in and effort to search out and bring talent to the island, by all accounts of the performance on the field through the 3 day camp, has done well to put together nothing less than what Cardilicchia calls an “explosive” team.
Looking forward to his first year of tenureship as the Rebels head coach after 19 years coaching at the community level, Cardilicchia was grinning ear to ear after seeing what he has assembled on field for the coming season. “ I’m really excited. It’s almost like Christmas for me getting to see the fruits of my labor. It’s pretty neat to see them (the players) all out here fly ‘in around.”
Not to tip his hand too soon about his team’s strengths and any possible “lesser strengths”, Cardilicchia would summarize, “ We’re explosive. We will be extremely aggressive on both offense and defense.”
Most notable in return to the offensive line of the Rebels is CJFL Allstar Offensive Lineman Christian Krause and Tyson Thompson. The 6’5”, 340 lb Krause, a hometown product of Victoria and the Mt. Douglas Rams high school football program, played an integral part of last year’s offensive line and the running game for the now departed, BCFC single season rushing record holder and MVP RB Jamel Lyles. The veterans in Thompson and Krause will certainly play a mentorship role to their fellow lineman in the upcoming season.
RB Trey Campbell, one half of last year’s “ dynamic duo”, makes his welcomed return out of the backfield just weeks after accepting an offer from St. Mary’s University in Halifax.
Confident in his step into a bigger role this season with the Rebels, Campbell, will be looking to his Rebel offensive line, and his local, off-season preparation at Westshore Training Academy. “Coach Beatty has had us in the gym working real hard, five days a week. We’re ready to defend the Cullen Cup.”
Missing from the lineup this season inexplicably is last year’s starting QB Ashton MacKinnon. The 6’7” Mt Douglas Rams product, acting as the Rebels offensive engine, threw for 1288 yards over seven games and 10 TD’s for a top five finish in the BCFC in 2016. In his place, Cardilicchia has brought in UBC field general Gabe Olivares, of Chilliwack, in relief, and last year Rebel back up QB Scott Borden, who only dressed for half a season before leaving the roster, to take the ball under center.
Opposing teams are certain to have “film” on defensive lineman returnees Byron MacKinnon, Kent Hicks, and Jeremy Drouin. For their relentless pursuit of the ball both were invited in the off-season by the Canadian Football League to attend regional combines. Last season, Hicks, the emotional leader for the BC Conference champs, collected 12 tackles, three assists, 5.5 sacks, had a knockdown, forced a pair of fumbles and recovered two fumbles last year. For Drouin’s efforts, he would collect nine tackles, five assists, and two sacks, had a block and knocked down a pass. Not to be overlooked, MacKinnon would post 10 tackles, 5 assists, 5.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a block and a knocked down pass as well or the Canadian Bowl runner-up Rebels.
The Rebels will open their season on the road July 29 in Kelowna against the Okanagan Sun in a rematch of the Cullen Cup final. Playing their first three games on the road while Westhills Stadium is refit with new field turf, Rebels football fans will have to wait until August 19th before they can get a taste of BCFC football in Victoria when the home side takes on the Langley Rams in the first of four consecutive home games also against Chilliwack, Kamloops and VI Raiders of Nanaimo.