Sun and Rebels ready to rumble

Okanagan Sun will look to shutdown Jamel Lyles and Westshore in a matchup of unbeaten teams Saturday in Kelowna

In a battle of undefeated teams

With one of the country’s top running backs at their disposal and a supporting cast of ex-CIS players, the Westshore Rebels have suddenly become a power in the B.C. Football Conference.

On Saturday, the defending champion Okanagan Sun (2-0) will look to defuse Jamel Lyles and the Rebels (2-0) as the BCFC’s two remaining unbeaten teams square off at the Apple Bowl. Kick off is 7 p.m.

Lyles, a B.C. native who played last season with the University of Manitoba Bisons, has 338 yards rushing, a 7.9 yard average and three major scores in Westshore’s first two games.

While shutting Lyles down entirely is probably unrealistic, Sun head coach Ben Macauley said his club can limit the damage with some solid, straightforward football.

“The onus is going to be on us to be fundamentally sound,” said Macauley. “They’re more experienced and physical than they’ve been, but there’s not much to their scheme, so we really just need to be good at blocking and tackling.

“(Lyles) is a very smooth and dynamic runner and he can beat guys one on one,” Macauley said of the 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back from Surrey. “As long as we limit the big plays, and keep our offence on the field for some good long stretches, then we’ll be going in the right direction.”

In addition to the high-stakes battle for top spot, Saturday’s game should feature some added flair with the return of Shane Beatty.

Now an assistant coach with the Rebels, Beatty parted ways with the Sun at the end of last season after three years as the team’s head coach in Kelowna.

Whatever emotions ensue from the return of the impassioned, sometimes irascible Beatty, Macauley said    it will be important for his players to stay on the task at hand.

“The main thing for the kids is that they focus on playing the game,” said Macauley. “As soon as coaches start thinking they’re part of the game, then that’s a problem.

“There will likely be some mixed emotions about Shane coming back to town. I’m not sure what to expect, but I don’t see our guys being focused on that. Players win games, not coaches, so it’s our job to convince the players that all that’s going to matter is what happens on the field.”

More than half the Sun’s current roster played for Beatty last season, including veteran defensive back Beck Fullerton.

The fourth-year product from Winnipeg plans to welcome the former coach back to Kelowna, then concentrate on the business at hand.

“I respect him as a coach, whatever happened before with Shane and the organization is in the past,” said Fullerton. “I’ll shake his hand, wish him luck and go out and play the game.”

After a pair of wins over weaker opponents to start the season—Chilliwack and Kamloops—Macauley knows the Rebels—with first place on the line—will present the Sun with their stiffest challenge yet.

Still, with the season just three weeks old, Macauley said the Sun will focus more on improving than the consequences of winning or losing.

“This isn’t the national championship,” Macauley said of Saturday’s game. “It’s a chance for us to get better and if we’re improving, then we’re getting somewhere.

“We see them two more times this year, so this is only one battle. We just need to look at getting better every week.”

Elsewhere in the BCFC this weekend, the Langley Rams (1-1) will play host to the Kamloops Broncos (0-2), while the Valley Huskers visit the Vancouver Island Raiders (1-1).

Just Posted

Valley Road closed 24-7, for now

Kelowna road closure extended due to safety concerns to build creek retaining wall

Accused killer’s fate in the hands of Kelowna jury

The jury is expected to start deliberating this afternoon

Silver Creek RCMP search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

Above and beyond for the United Way

Local company keeps on raising money for the United Way of the Central Okanagan

Have your say on downtown parking in Kelowna

Open house scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Rally condemns violence, promotes healing

Discovery of human remains and disappearances of women have created tension in the rural community

Justice to decide court’s jurisdiction over Indigenous man

Alex Louie, also known as Senklip, is standing trial over 9 charges related to alleged gun smuggling

Province grants $784,000 for Okanagan projects

Rural Dividend grants support Okanagan community projects

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

B.C. school trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

Chilliwack’s Barry Neufeld published the comments on his Facebook page

B.C. couple hope boat drone becomes first to cross Atlantic

Colin and Julie Angus of Victoria to have drone collect environmental data en route

Driver trapped for 16 hours after car flips

Member of Anarchist Mountain Volunteer Fire Department in Osoyoos made discovery while out for walk

Penticton pilots new mobile parking payment app

Eliminating the need to carry change for parking meters

Most Read