The Okanagan Sun will battle for homefield playoff advantage in their final game of the regular season this Saturday at the Apple Bowl.
The Sun (6-2-1) host the Westshore Rebels (3-5-1) for what promises to be a hard-fought game.
The teams for the BC Football Conference Playoffs are set, but only one point separates the top three teams. A win Saturday would guarantee the Sun homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
That would be a bonus for the players and the organization said head coach Ben Macauley.
“If you can stay at home, rest in your own bed, not have to board a bus, not have to eat in different places, then that’s an advantage,” he said. “The other side of it is it’s huge for us on the bottom line of the organization.”
The Sun organization would get the ticket revenues as well as food and alcohol sales at the home games.
“It’s kind of a snowballing effect,” said Macauley. “The whole world comes together when you get a homefield advantage.”
But first, Saturday’s final regular season game at the Apple Bowl.
McCauley said he wants to see his team play with a bit of desperation this weekend and to carry that momentum into playoffs the following week.
“We feel like we’ve played some good football and we’ve been really strong defensively all year and now as we get our pieces healthy again … that our best football is yet to come and we haven’t even reached our potential yet,” he said. “And to do that and still sit in first place is good news.”
Returning this weekend will likely be defensive lineman Nicholas Dheilly, who has been out since the fifth game of the season with a lower-body injury.
“He’s one of the top players in the country and having him suit up is a guy that other teams have to prepare for,” said Macauley. “Anytime you’re spending time and effort preparing for one guy, you know that you’ve got something special there so it’ll be nice to have him suited up again.”
Matt Mahler will likely return as the starting quarterback this weekend as Jakob Loucks remains day-to-day with his injury.
Fans can expect to see a good defensive game played by the hometown Sun.
“We take the ball away a lot,” said Macauley. “Those are exciting momentum shifting plays so I think fans will be excited to watch the guys they’ve been supporting all year kind of put a cap on the season.”
Mahler expects it to be a hard-fought game.
“You never want an easy win. It’s not really fun,” he said. “You like to grind through the dirt and pull out the W.”
The game starts at 7 p.m.