A pair of Saturday blowouts before the weekend was saved by as entertaining a junior football game as you will see Sunday thanks largely to a stellar road performance from the VI Raiders. Let’s get right to Monday BCFC musings…
If the effort put forth by the VI Raiders in yesterday’s 31-31 tie on the road against the Sun wasn’t as gutsy as any team has managed this season, I’d like to know which one was better. After being blown out by the Sun at home before the Labour Day break outsiders, like me, were thinking the Raiders might be lucky to keep it close. Not only did they swing punch for punch with the Sun, the touchdown in the last minute along, with 2-point convert showed that team has a load of heart. It would have been easy for them to have a letdown after the Sun took a 31-23 lead late in the game and head home thinking they gave it a good effort. I don’t know if the Raiders got on the ferry happy with the tie or thinking they left a point on the table, maybe it was a bit of both. But regardless, it was a game that will instill confidence and give them an outside shot to host a semi-final game. Who would have thought that was a possibility a week ago?
We maybe shouldn’t have been surprised the game was as close as it was. In 6 previous match-ups at the Apple Bowl these clubs were even at 6-6 with the Raiders outscoring the Sun by a 23-22 margin.
Last week in my predictions of what would take place the rest of the season I suggested Raiders kicker James Parker would fall behind his 90% FG clip that he is at presently. A member of the Raiders executive took some issue with that yesterday and I explained my reasoning was that parker would be called on to make some longer kicks the last 5 games that would hurt his average. Time will tell if I’m correct, but yesterday he was a perfect 3-3, two being of the short variety and one clutch 39 yarder in the 3rd quarter. He has my vote for special team player of the week already.
More on predictions last week and how the games would go this weekend…I specifically mentioned Quinton Bowles needing to make things happen from the defensive line for the Raiders. Let’s look at Bowles stat line on the day, 4 tackles an assist and 2 sacks. Anyone you want me to address this week coach Hocking?
Speaking of player of the week, Sun receiver Shamar Donelson, in his first full game back this season after injury had 5 receptions for 178 yards and all 4 of the Sun touchdowns yesterday. Hand the offensive POW to him now and save the email asking the voters who they select this week.
Where would the Valley Huskers be if they could muster any sort of offensive threat this year? They put up another pretty solid defensive effort against the Langley Rams despite the 45-3 score. But 63 yards of net offense meant their defense was defending a short field most of the way and did well to keep the game from being even more lopsided.
A bit of an arms race took place during the bye week as both the Rebels and Sun added what would appear to be pretty key pieces to their respective play-off chances. The Rebels added safety Robbie Lowes, who was formerly property of the Regina Thunder and a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders practice roster. Surprising the Thunder would let this talent walk away but it will be a boon to the Rebels defense and indicative of the prairie talent pool.
The Sun, meanwhile signed Rashaun Simonize, who joined the club late last season, although he didn’t dress in the Cullen Cup last year or yesterday against the Raiders. The club is taking some heat from other clubs in the conference as while Simonize was in the states with the Cincinnati Bengals last year, he apparently had some issues regarding the dreaded PED’s. The supplement he was taking that is banned in the USA is perfectly legal here, this brings to mind the whole issue of where this world has gone with PED testing but that’s another story. The sports world should be testing for and eliminating steroids of course, but the list of substances banned is so far reaching and so confusing that athletes every day are being hung for questionable reasons IMO.
I think Simonize should be given a pass on the PED issue but might second guess the Sun on the signing for other reasons. The club already has a pretty talented receiving core and the addition of this 22 year old means a younger player who can help the club beyond this year will be sitting. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is junior football and clubs should be working to improve themselves before the Sept 15 signing deadline. I’m just not convinced that Simonize will be all that much help to the Sun offense as it currently sits, although his punt returning abilities might have paid dividends yesterday. The fact that he sat out the first 5 games of the season has me wondering how much he wants to play junior, is his just getting some football in ahead of the CFL draft next spring? Will he be a distraction or a key addition? By all accounts he was a popular teammate last year, so we will see if he puts the Sun over the top.
I’m going to question the Westshore Rebels chances for success deep in to the play-offs for two reasons, and in one area I’m guessing Rebels head coach Charly Cardilicchia will agree with me, the other not as much. The first is penalties, and how much a club’s penchant for taking them hurts in the second season. Westshore took another 24 for 224 yards on the weekend against Kamloops. Westshore is now at 120 penalties for 1055 yards on the season, the next closest club is the Sun at 73 penalties and 667 yards. The Rebels are pretty much double the least penalized team and one they could well be facing in the first round of the play-offs, namely the Langley Rams who have been tagged just 62 times for 530 yards. It’s a typical statement to say a team must play disciplined football come play-offs but it’s also very true and if the Rebels don’t fix this this broken cog in their machine, their 2017 might be over sooner than they think.
Now where coach Cardilicchia will disagree with me…As I’ve said before, I love this guy’s confidence and bravado, the concept of teams being afraid to provide bulletin board material pains me. I just don’t buy that something said in a newspaper can swing a game. But last week when the Rebels signed Robbie Lowes out of Regina, Cardilicchia did say something that had me scratching my head a bit when he referred to Lowes dislike for the Saskatoon Hilltops. That little slip of the tongue would indicate to me coach Cardilicchia is looking way beyond the BCFC play-offs, way too soon. The last time I checked the Rebels are in second place with 3 of their last 4 games against play-off bound clubs so Mr. Lowes would be better served to dislike the Rams, Raiders and Sun and forget all about the team in ‘Toon town.
At the end of the day I don’t think the Rebels are as good as Cardilicchia believes and while I don’t doubt their chances to win the Cullen Cup, there are other teams that will have something to say about it come October.
Have the Langley Rams finally settled on which quarterback will lead them the rest of the season after platooning Colby Peters and Rylan Mathers through the first 5 games? This past weekend might indicate they have as Mathers pretty much went the distance in the blowout over the Huskers with Peters just throwing two passes.
The BCFC gives out awards for top offensive and top defensive players, there is no MVP in terms of which player is most valuable to his club. Hard to argue if there was an MVP it shouldn’t go to Broncos QB Colby Henkel. I’m guessing he’s a bit disappointed this year, as are of course the Broncos as everyone in Kamloops expected to be better than 1-5 at this point. Henkel’s numbers I’m sure aren’t what he would like them to be either but this kid has been hit so many times this year it’s amazing he’s still standing as the Broncos have given up 30 sacks on the season. I know the Broncos are really counting on Colby sticking with the club long term, and I’m not sure what his plans are regarding university but I for one am hoping to see him in Kamloops again next year.
And as someone who has been around this league 25 plus years I can give him several arms lengths list of players over the years who have left junior clubs for the wrong reasons (leaving to play football rather than truly being focused on school with football secondary) who regretted leaving junior early.
Road bet of the week Do the Broncos salvage their season in Langley against the Rams? Will the Raiders in Westshore battling the Rebels be another classic? Those are both questions, but with the Sun in Chilliwack, I think we all know what road team is most likely to come away with the W.