July 29th, 2023    Nanaimo, BC (ISN) –  The Langford-based Westshore Rebels of the British Columbia Football Conference started their 2023 football season with a statement win over their up island rival VI Raiders of Nanaimo last Saturday afternoon at Q’unq’inuqwstuxw Stadium,shutting out the Raiders on their home turf in a 69-0 victory.

The Westshore Rebels would rule the day that surely surprised even themselves. To say that the Rebels dominated the game would be an understatement as the Rebels would control all facets of the game against the Raiders in the lopsided win.

First year Head Coach Dexter Janke was all smiles post game with his and his team’s first win of the season. “I’m excited for our group. How much work they put into the off season. How much they bought into the culture. How much they bought into doing it our way as Rebels. It’s great for them to be validated with their effort. I’m extremely excited for them, and enjoying this moment with them”, he would comment.

The Rebels, training in part since early in the year, looked the better prepared of the two teams. The Rebels appeared to not   find much fight in the reworked 2023 VI Raiders team. Taking the advantage early, with strong play on both sides of the ball, the Rebels would run up a decisive 42-0 score in the first quarter alone and never look back.

Rebels’ starting quarterback Te Jessie would live up to his recent CJFL ranking as the top player in the nation, leading his team to a seven, first-half touchdown performance to seemingly deflate the aspiring Raider squad and their hopeful fan base in attendance on the afternoon. Jessie would orchestrate an impressive 316-yard net offensive, first half onslaught that would see the Rebels find the house on seven different occasions during the first 30 minutes of play to rock the Raiders back on their heels, taking a 55-0 lead into halftime.

Rebel’s RB Gerren Hardisty would open the scoring, tallying two TDs on consecutive Rebels possessions to ignite the Rebels offense from the opening snap of the ball in this season’s first of a three-game rivalry dubbed the “Battle of the Rock”.

Cairo Berry, a receiver and kick return specialist, would lead all scorers in the game, scoring three touchdowns in highlight reel fashion. Berry would post 2 TDs on the play calling and arm of QB Te Jessie, and an exciting 61-yard punt return for a major to lead the team to their first victory of the 2023 season.

Other Rebels to find the end zone were Malik Gagne-Smith, Shaun Clazie, Keiran Poissant, CJ Vincent, and Chris McLarty.

Jessie’s Raider counterpart, Ben Chomolock, for all his efforts to find game rhythm would look rushed and out of sync with his receivers due in part by the relentless defensive line pressure of the Rebels. Chomolock would appear comfortable running the ball, but despite finding a few slivers of sideline room on rare occasions to advance the Raider ball, little sustained gain was to be had. The Raider ball slinger would finish the first half with an anemic 31 net yards offense on a 5/19 completion rate before sitting out the second half of the game.

Chomolock would give way to back-up quarterback Jayden Playfair in the second half of play as the Raiders hoped to find some offensive relief. Playfair, despite being a member of the Rebels last season, wasn’t given much additional latitude from his ex-Rebel defensive teammates, posting limited success with a net offense of 61 yards against the Rebels’ stingy defense. Unable to link together plays to extend Raiders offensive drives, he would find the same difficulty as his teammate Chomolok in finding the endzone to erase the doughnut.

With the game out of reach, Janke would send the second unit for some invaluable “rep time” in the second half.

The Rebels’ Jessie would sit out the second half after a yeoman performance, giving back-up quarter back teammate Ethan Pickard the keys to the offense to guide the Rebels 2nd offensive unit for the last 30 minutes of play.   Pickard would navigate his team to an additional 187 yards net offense on 7/15 passing, engineering two touchdowns complemented by the efforts of running back Malik Gagne-Smith and receiver Chris McLarty.

When asked about the importance of opportunity to the team that all players get real game-time repetition, Janke would comment, “It’s massive. We say true to an ethos of development for our players and our program, so to be able to get individuals in and get live reps it’s amazing because at the end of the day it’s about validating their efforts, and if they work hard, they will get the opportunity (to play)”.


Defensively, the Rebels were relentless in their pursuit of the ball. Turning away most attempts at a positive Raider gain, the Rebels would force the black and red into a three and out scenario much of the game, punting the ball away seven times in the first half alone. The Rebel defensive unit would also record 3 interceptions in the first half to snuff Raider attempts to advance the ball.

If there was a blemish in the Rebels performance, it would fall to the habitual nature of too many penalties. Fortunately, the Rebels would be able to rely on the first half score to weather the 156 yards in penalties taken in the first 30 minutes. With Janke using the halftime break to refocus his squad, the Rebels would only commit another 60 yards to the negative the rest of the way, committing a total of 14 penalties in the game.  Unhappy with that game statistic, Janke offered his view moving forward. “We didn’t play well enough. We didn’t play to our standard. We took 14 penalties. There were turnovers. Some of the penalties we were taking I think came down to focus, so there’s always going to be something to improve, and there is a lot for us to improve on even with this victory”.


Another player of note was Rebels’ kicker Gio Linuzzi. Linuzzi, a product of SFU via Mt. Douglas Rams of Victoria, BC, would prove his leg invaluable for the team. Forcing the Raiders to start their offensive drives deep in their own end, Linuzzi would accrue 471 kick-off yards on nine attempts, and go a perfect nine for nine in point conversions.

After the victory and in summing up the team’s direction going into next week’s home opener vs the Kamloops Broncos, Janke was pragmatic in his answer when asked if he is looking for perfection from his team. “We’ll chase it, but I’m…., we’re looking for progress.

The Westshore Rebels will kick off their 2023 home opener at Starlight Stadium Saturday, August 5th, 4pm.  Tickets are available at Westshore.ca or at the gate on game day.



SOURCEErich Eichhorn