The Vancouver Island Raiders may yet have a say in the matter, but many pundits of junior football are looking at this weekend’s matchup in Langley as a possible preview of the 2014 BCFC championship game.
The Okanagan Sun will visit the rival Rams Saturday night at McLeod Stadium in the first of three regular season meetings between the clubs.
Langley, which defeated the Raiders 44-36 in week one, features a massive offensive line and some explosive talent on both offence and special teams.
With added depth across the board in the off-season, the Sun is considered a stronger, faster team overall—particularly on defence—than the one split two meetings with the Rams last season.
In head coach Shane Beatty’s estimation, it all points to a hard-fought matchup between two B.C. powers.
“Langley is the team to beat this year, they’re physical, fast and explosive,” said Beatty, in his second season as the Sun’s head coach. “We’re an improved team, our D-line is more physical, we’re faster in the secondary, our O-line is bigger and more experienced and our receivers are as good as there is.
“The kids are really excited to play and see how they stack up against Langley.”
All facets of the Sun’s game were in good working order last weekend in a 41-7 season-opening win over the Valley Huskers in Chilliwack.
Okanagan’s running game provided most of the thrust on offense, with Alex Bradley piling up 121 yards rushing.
Sun quarterback Cam Bedore expects the running game to be a factor again on Saturday and for the rest of the campaign.
“We brought in some key guys on the O-line, they’ve provided some protection and the run game looked strong,” Bedore said. “It’s something we really didn’t have last year, it takes the pressure off the passing game…now we can use the run more to set up the pass.”
Bedore had limited success with the pass last week in the season opener, but Beatty isn’t concerned. The head coach liked what he saw against Chilliwack and expects the third-year quarterback to just get better with each week.
“Cam played phenomenal,” Beatty said of Bedore who is backed up by rookie Josiah Joseph. “We missed a couple of big passes by millimetres that could have been big plays, so that will come. He played tough and fast and made good decisions. We like what Cam is doing.”
As for Bedore’s take on Saturday’s game, it’s chance for the Sun to where they stand against one of junior football’s most explosive teams.
“It’s early in the season, but every game is important,” he said. “We’re looking at this as a good test, a big momentum setter if we can get off on the right foot. This one is going to tell us and the other teams in the league how powerful we are. I expect us to be ready to play and to play well.”
Kick off Saturday night at McLeod Stadium is 7 p.m.
The Sun’s home opener is Saturday, Aug. 9 against the V.I. Raiders.