October 27, 2019. Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Westshore Rebels slugged out a 17-7 semi-final playoff victory Saturday night at Westhills Stadium, defeating their perennial island rival VI Raiders to advance to the British Columbia Football Conference Cullen Cup final.
The Rebels, making their third appearance in four years, will travel next Saturday to Langley to meet an undefeated Rams team for the third time this season, in a match up that was prophesized early in the 2019 season.
The Rebels, noted this season as a more defensive-minded team, would be pitted against a Raiders team with no shortage of offensive threats throughout the regular season despite the third-place finish in the standings. The Raider’s would look forward to the return of starting QB Jake Laberge to add the needed firepower to get past the Rebels, but in what turned out to be more a defensive duel, the Rebels would prevail despite the lack of offense. The Rebels defensive has been gaining steam at the right time as of late as their starting defensive core returns from injuries.
The Rebels would rely on running back Zachary Lubin and receiver Nathan Falito to the yeoman’s share of moving the ball down field for the boot of kicker Will Hughes to find the mark. Hughes would figure in his team’s victory, scoring on all five of his field goal attempts, his longest a 39-yard strike through the uprights. Lubin would carry the ball twenty times for a hard fought 67b yards, while Falito, used three times sparingly, would pull down the ball for 108 yards total including a 63-yard toss from Rebels QB Shawn Lal. The Rebels defense would add a two-point touch back on a Jake Laberge intentional grounding penalty in Raider’s end zone to round out the home teams scoring.
The Raider’s, uncharacteristically would find the end zone only once in the game, scoring on an Andre Goulbourne rush with six minutes remaining in the third quarter to put fans, on both sides of the ball, on the edge of their seats in a now 9-7 score.
Raider penalties and an unrelenting Rebel defense would eventually break down the up-island team with their speed to eventually put pressure QB Laberge. Scrimmaging inside the Raider’s half of the field much of the second half of the game, the Raiders would start to fight what seemed an slippery, uphill battle for the Nanaimo squad. Rebel’s Malik Womack would figure in a shift of tides, stepping in front of a Laberge pass in VI Raider territory to record his 10thinterception of the season, seemingly taking the air out of the Raiders efforts to mount a comeback.
Shane Beatty, the Rebel’s head coach, had nothing but respect for the Raider’s players in the win. “ I tell you what, Jake ( Laberge) is one hell of a quarterback, those three receivers scare the hell out of me, and their punt return unit is just special. They nearly give me a heart attack every play, but we hung in there. “
In a league where some teams have difficulty bouncing back after a disappointing season, the Rebels have bucked that trend in their 2019 season. When asked how his Rebels have been able to so quickly turn around last season’s failures into this season’s successes, without surprise from a head coach with a successful, defensive-minded coaching pedigree, head coach Beatty, would simply answer, “play with really good defense, and recruit the best secondary.”
The Cullen Cup will take place November 2nd, at McLeod Stadium in Langley. Game time TBA.