The BCFC season is short, as we are already 30% of the way home, and while there is still enough football to be played for each team that destinies are still self- controlled, some of the teams are performing as well as predicted, and at least one is painting itself into a corner early. If a home play-off date is important to a club (and they generally are, as this is when a junior football team generally turns a money losing or break even season into a profit) we can already start to see teams digging in.
The Langley Rams are the aforementioned team that has painted itself in a corner. Yes, both its losses were to the 3-0 Okanagan Sun and 2-1 VI Raiders but both those games were at home, and that has to be a bit troubling as the Rams traditionally don’t have a lot of success when on the road against the Raiders or Sun. Westhills Stadium won’t be a walk in the park for the Rams this weekend, and if they lose that game they will have to buckle their collective chin straps if they have a home play-off date in their plans.
If there is a team that is proving itself capable of digging deep, it is the Westshore Rebels. Since a tight opening night loss to the Okanagan Sun in Kelowna, the defending champs have come from behind in back to back weeks for wins over the VI Raiders and now the Kamloops Broncos. While the Rebels can take some pride in the fact they are capable of finding a way to win when they need it most, the fact remains that they could very easily be sitting with an 0-3 record this morning.
After three straight weeks on the road, the Rebels are home this weekend to a Langley Rams team that might be feeling desperate, frustrated and angry at 1-2. If the Rebels are to win a statement game with a sound performance against a good football team, this is the time.
Huskers head coach Bob Reist never made any promises as to what sort of record his club would compile this year, and while prognosticators had his club finishing last, the Huskers were feeling the love as a club that would be vastly improved this season. On paper, at least that hasn’t been the case as the club sits 0-3, and has been outscored 120 to 8. They head to the Apple Bowl this weekend to face the Sun, and one can only imagine the pre-game speech Reist gives to his charges for this one. If “character building” and “future” were words the Huskers coach used at the start of the season when addressing his players, they will want to remember that this weekend. Reist might want to pick up the phone to Westshore Rebels assistant John Cardilicchia for advice this weekend. When Cardilicchia took over as head coach of the Rebels in the late 1998, his club took it on the chin in a big way from the Sun. The next three seasons he had his club going toe to toe with the BCFC flagship club from the Okanagan.
The 40-0 pounding the Huskers took this weekend likely isn’t a surprise to most, and while the score is what it is, the Huskers didn’t seem to quit which is a good sign for a club that will continue to have it’s struggles this year.
Sack facts. The Huskers trail in pretty much every offensive and defensive category in terms of yards for and against as might be expected. Interesting though that they lead the league in sacks allowed with just one given up through three games. The BCFC doesn’t track “hurries” or quarterback pressures so the sack number alone may or may not tell the whole story. Still, it’s an impressive number that will no doubt be tested this weekend by a tough Sun front 7. The Langley Rams conversely on the other side of the ball have been solid defensively yet still have not registered a sack of their own this season.
VI Raiders quarterback Jake Laberge came in 4th in a pre-season fan poll asking what passer would be named to the conference all-star team this year. While these types of polls are less scientific and more of a popularity contest, Laberge is proving any doubters wrong so far as he leads the BCFC in virtually every passing category. He was said to be in a battle for the starters role before Jamie Ybarra suffered an early season medical issue, but with the way he has played thus far, one has to wonder how much of a battle for the starters job there was. He threw his only 3 interceptions this weekend but was perfect in that category in tight games against the Rebels and Rams previously.
No that wasn’t an earthquake you might have felt originating from Kamloops Saturday night, that would have been Broncos President Dino Bernardo banging his head against the ground as a fumble deep in his club’s own end resulted in a Rebels touchdown and a 25-21 win for the visitors. Fumble aside, which can happen as a football play, the last 4 minutes or so was as entertaining and perplexing as it could be. An electrifying touchdown from quarterback Colby Henkel to Brody Bernier to give the Broncos a 21-18 lead was followed up by a sequence of undisciplined penalties by both teams as both sides seemed determined to hand the game to the other club. A Broncos win on this night would have been the biggest in the club’s 10 year history, and while that didn’t happen, the club showed some good things to indicate there is a chance for them to make a play-off push.
Speaking of electrifying, check out the BCFC facebook page for Max Joseph’s 105 yard missed field goal return. Couple that with Langley Rams Kyle Clarot’s 106 yard interception return a week ago, and we have two of the nicest touchdowns we will see this season already.
I went to a referee convention and a football game broke out. We are averaging just under 28 penalties per game this season. While I know it’s easy to blame the officials, and as I mentioned above some penalties are well deserved I wonder why the officials sometimes can’t be a little less willing to be involved in the game. I watched the Rebels take an unsportsmanlike penalty celebrating a turnover late in the game Saturday night. While admittedly I couldn’t hear what the player(s) might have said, the actions on screen certainly didn’t seem to warrant a flag. This isn’t the “No Fun League (NFL)” after all, and even they are lightening up in that area.
Lastly, CJFL action in the PFC and OFC got underway this weekend and we saw two of 6 inter-conference games take place between those conferences. I know many out here in BC were disappointed our conference didn’t take part this season after two games in 2016. Our team Presidents just didn’t see the value in the expense of flying teams half way across the country. Last year’s experiments that saw the Okanagan Sun host the Saskatoon Hilltops saw a larger crowd than would have happened had the schedule Sun/Huskers game take place, but that’s to be expected. The crowd certainly didn’t justify the cost of brining the Hilltops in however, and in Chilliwack as the Huskers hosted the Winnipeg Rifles, there was zero added interest, both in terms of crowd and media.
The WHL and U Sports (CIS) don’t play interlocking in their respective leagues and they operate with budgets hundreds times larger than ours, so how can we justify it? The PFC is the overall strongest conference for a multitude of reasons from grass roots on up, interlocking games isn’t going to solve the disparity. The BCFC and OFC both have their own challenges to effectively compete and that, in my opinion should be what we work towards. A game between two BCFC clubs or two OFC teams is just as exciting as when two PFC teams match up. Build our brands at home is the key to creating interest in our product.
We need a viable and competitive Ontario Football Conference, and flying PFC teams in to flex their muscles (the combined score as the Winnipeg Rifles and Edmonton Huskies beat the Ottawa Sooners and Windsor Fratmen was 87-1) isn’t going to solve our competitive imbalance. It just pointed it out.
Last weekend in the BCFC
Okanagan Sun 34 Langley Rams 17
VI Raiders 40 Valley Huskers 0
Westshore Rebels 25 Kamloops Broncos 21
This weekend in the BCFC
Saturday, Aug 19
2PM Kamloops Broncos @ VI Raiders
3PM Langley Rams @ Westshore Rebels
7PM Valley Huskers @ Okanagan Sun