Halfway through his first season as head coach, it wasn’t where Gavin Lake wanted or expected his club to be.
As it is, the Okanagan Sun have managed just a victory in five tries in 2012, the slowest start in the team’s 32-year history.
With a general overhaul of the Sun organization from top to bottom over the last year—including changes in executive, management, coaching staff and players—the transition has come with its share of challenges.
One of the BCFC’s youngest teams, the Sun has 16 new starters this season, and more than 20 players who are straight out of high school.
And exacerbated by an unbalanced schedule with three games each this season against top teams Langley and the Vancouver Island Raiders, the Sun is still trying to find its way under the first-year head coach.
“You can’t have full-scale change from top to bottom and expect everything to be the same,” said Lake. “At the same time, you don’t coach football to lose. You coach to win and unfortunately we haven’t been doing much of that. We have a bunch of young guys on this team and it’s taking some time coach them up.
“We’ve basically re-tooled this team…having said that, it doesn’t explain the mistakes we’re making.”
Miscues were the name of the game Saturday night in a 27-24 home field setback to the Westshore Rebels, the Sun’s third loss in a row.
Arriving 90 minutes late to the Apple Bowl due to a broken-down bus, the Rebels took advantage of five Okanagan turnovers to push their record to 4-1, adding even more separation between themselves and the fourth-place Sun (1-4).
Two uncharacteristic lost fumbles came from veteran punt returner Robbie Yochim and two more from Sun running backs.
“You can’t turn the ball over like we did and expect to win football games,” Lake said. “We had some great individual efforts, some guys who really came to play, but the turnovers did us in.
“It’s frustrating beating yourself,” added Lake. “If you get blown out 50-0, and you’ve got a bunch of young guys and you’re building for the future that’s one thing. We could have won this game but the fumbles got in the way.”
Overshadowed in the loss was the Sun’s biggest offensive play of the season, a 94-yard pass and run play from Cam Bedore to Bobby Davis for a third-quarter touchdown.
With a top-three finish in the BCFC becoming less likely each week, the Sun’s focus over the last half of the season will turn to securing the fourth and final playoff spot.
The road doesn’t get any easier this Saturday as the Sun host the Raiders (4-0-1) in a 1 p.m. kickoff.
“They’re a very confident group with a five-year veteran quarterback, so we anticipate they’ll be ready,” Lake said of the Raiders who edged the Sun 30-29 last month in Nanaimo.
“For us, we have to concentrate on fundamental football, understand our roles and blocking schemes and protect our passer. It all starts with the basics.”
Including Saturday’s action, the Sun has two games remaining against the Raiders, and one each with Langley, Kamloops and Chilliwack.