Okanagan Sun running back Armand Bokitch (right) and quarterback Jeremy Joseph-Mraovic are getting prepared for this weekend's first-place battle with the Vancouver Island Raiders.

Okanagan Sun running back Armand Bokitch (right) and quarterback Jeremy Joseph-Mraovic are getting prepared for this weekend's first-place battle with the Vancouver Island Raiders.

Arch rivals battle for first

Okanagan Sun and Vancouver Island Raiders put 4-0 BCFC record on the line Saturday in Nanaimo

Second-year running back Armand Bokitch simply confirmed what most people around the B.C. Football Conference already suspected.

There’s absolutely no love lost between the Okanagan Sun and the Vancouver Island Raiders.

“These teams have never liked each other very much as long as I can remember,” said Bokitch, 19. “The (Raiders) are a very talkative team and they try get under your skin, but we just need to focus on our own game.

“Each team wants to beat the other and they’re about as well-matched as two teams can be. You can always expect a hard-fought game when we meet.”

The BCFC’s perennial arch rivals will square off for this first time this season on Saturday afternoon at Caledonia Park in Nanaimo. Kick off is 4 p.m.

And, as usual, there will be plenty at stake.

With both squads unbeaten at 4-0, the winner will take over sole possession of top spot in the conference at the halfway mark of the 2011 campaign.

The Raiders have run roughshod over their opponents so far this season with 223 points scored and a mere 29 points allowed.

In Vancouver Island, the Sun will face the task shutting down a high-octane offense, led by quarterback and 2010 player of the year, Jordan Yantz.

“He’s a good player and you’re not going to take everything away from him…they’re going to get their yards,” Sun defensive lineman Alex Law said of Yantz and the Raider offense. “But if we’re quick off the ball, we play hard, and we play smart, then we have a good chance of slowing him down.

“Even when they move the ball,” added Law, “we can’t get nervous or panic. We just need to stick to the game plan.”

After a pair of mediocre efforts Langley, the Sun is coming off its best effort of the season, a dominant 49-7 win over the Westshore Rebels last Saturday night at the Apple Bowl.

Okanagan was effective in all three aspects of the game—offense, defense and special teams—and looked a lot more like a team in sync than in the previous three weeks.

Still, as much improvement as he saw in his club last week, head coach Jason Casey acknowledges playing the Rebels and playing the Raiders are two vastly different scenarios.

“Against Nanaimo, we’re going to have to be perfect,” said Casey. “You can’t take plays off, but you also have to stay, calm, cool and collected. They’re going to get their plays, so it’s a matter of making sure we capitalize on our opportunities when we get them. We’ll have to be at the top of our game, physically and mentally.”

Casey said having Bokitch back in the lineup was a big boost to the offense against Victoria, and he’s hoping the same is true on Saturday afternoon against the Raiders.

Bokitch missed the first three games of the regular season with a herniated disc, but didn’t seem to miss a beat with 127 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Rebels.

“It’s good to be back,” said Bokitch. “I’m glad I took that time off to get better, it should help me in the long run. It’s nice to be back out there with a chance to help the team. I worked really hard in the off-season, so hopefully it pays off.”

Sun Spots…Defensive lineman Steven Doege will look to add to his BCFC record for career sacks. He currently has 24.5…The Sun’s next home action is Sunday, Sept. 11 at home to the Chilliwack Huskers…The 2011 Sun scholarship breakfast is set for Thursday, Sept. 22 at the Coast Capri Hotel. The guest speaker is CFL Hall of Fame member John Helton. Visit okanagan.ca for more information.


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