Last October, the Okanagan Sun was poised to end a decade-long B.C. Football Conference title drought.
But the Langley Rams spoiled the party.
Twelve months later, the Sun has a chance to make amends when they host the Vancouver Island Raiders Sunday in the 2015 Cullen Cup final.
“The kids didn’t forget what happened, that doesn’t go away,” head coach Shane Beatty said of last year’s 23-19 loss to the Rams at the Apple Bowl.
“They’ve been really tuned in for the last three or four weeks. The closer they get to the end goal, the more determined they’ve become.
“They know what’s at stake.”
Quarterback Cam Bedore is one of 18 players who will graduate from the Sun program at the end of the season.
With last year’s setback in the final representing the low point of his Sun career to date, the 22-year-old pivot is hoping this Sunday’s game will produce the opposite effect.
“It was a devastating loss (to Langley), something we don’t want to repeat,” Bedore said. “To have been so close and have it taken away, that’s something we don’t want to feel again.
“The guys are as ready as they can be. This is something we all really want.”
For Bedore and his fellow grads, it also marks their final games at the friendly and familiar surroundings at the Apple Bowl.
“It’s been a pretty good ride the last four years,” said Bedore. “It’s going to be a pretty emotional day, win or lose…playing for the last time in the brown jersey.
“I know we’ve all been counting this day down, so we all want to make the most of it and make sure it’s a memorable day.”
Beatty said to a man, every graduating Sun player has made a key contribution to the team, in one way or another.
The head coach would like to see every one of them rewarded this weekend.
“Those guys busted their butts, guys like (Kyle) Patchell, (Thomas) Huber, (Wes) Geisler, (Brennan) Van Nisterlooy, (Cam) Bedore…all of them.
“They’ve given their all and have meant a lot to the organization. It would be nice to see them go out on top.”
As for the prospects of claiming the club’s first BCFC title since 2004, Beatty said it would be a significant achievement for the Sun organization, from top to bottom.
“Obviously, it would mean a lot to end an 11-year drought, for the players and coaches and the entire organization. It’s time to go out there and perform and get this team back to where it’s supposed to be.”
Still, as much as the Sun’s goal right from the start has been making it to the Canadian Bowl, Bedore said his club—as it has all season—won’t be looking past its next challenge.
“The Raiders are a good football team,” Bedore said. “Every week, our goal has been to go 1-0. What happens after that, we can’t look at that. We can only do what we can do this week and prepare the best we can.”
Kick off Sunday at the Apple Bowl between the Sun and Raiders is 1 p.m.
The winner will travel east to play the Prairie Football Conference champion in the Canadian Bowl the weekend of Nov. 8 and 9.
The PFC final this Sunday features the Calgary Colts in Saskatoon to play the Hilltops.