V.I. Raiders player Justin Cook tackles Okanagan Sun kick returner Robbie Yochim during Saturday's B.C. Football Conference game at Nanaimo's Caledonia Park. The Sun won 19-7.

V.I. Raiders player Justin Cook tackles Okanagan Sun kick returner Robbie Yochim during Saturday's B.C. Football Conference game at Nanaimo's Caledonia Park. The Sun won 19-7.

Roster depth a useful tool for Sun

BCFC leaders run into some injury trouble but call on second-stringers for relief

Like each and every team in the B.C. Football Conference, the Okanagan Sun is feeling the physical wear and tear of the 2014 season.

Seven games in, the Sun is nursing its share of bumps and bruises—but easing the pain to a large degree is a five-game winning streak, a 6-1 record and sole possession of top spot.

With No. 1 quarterback Cam Bedore, defensive lineman Jonas Gering, and defensive backs Beck Fullerton and Matt McConnell among those on the list of the walking wounded, the Sun’s overall depth is becoming a rather useful tool.

When Okanagan hosts the Westshore Rebels (2-5) on Saturday night, head coach Shane Beatty expects to be resting as many as key players as possible, and make use of what many consider the deepest roster in the conference.

While Beatty never looks past an opponent, the head coach said it’s important his club is in the best possible health for what could potentially be a battle for first place against the visiting Langley Rams on Sept. 28.

“We’re banged up and a little tired, but you expect this later in a football season,” said Beatty. “We’ve got to get through this week, get healthy and be ready for when we see Langley. We’re going to use the depth we have. The (Rams) have been banged up, too, but are getting some guys back now as well.”

With games remaining against the Rebels, Rams and Kamloops, and a grip on top spot, the Sun controls its own destiny.

Okanagan is coming off a rare season-sweep of the Vancouver Island Raiders, although Saturday’s 19-7 win in Nanaimo was the most hard-fought of all three wins.

With humid, 27 degree conditions at Caledonia Park, Beatty said it was one his club’s gutsier efforts.

“It was a hard place to breathe, the guys were really put to the test, and the Raiders were definitely improved over the last time we saw them (64-20),” Beatty said. “(Rookie quarterback) Josiah Joseph stepped up and played well, it was a learning experience for him. Our defence shut them down to seven points which was nice. Overall, we fought hard and really learned how play through some tough conditions.”

Speaking of depth, the Sun has added some to the offensive backfield with the return of a familiar face.

OKM grad Armand Bokitch, who played with the Sun in 2010 and 2011, is back with the junior club after two years at Butte College in California.

“He’s a great young man who will have a chance to compete for a spot with us, at running back, at slotback and returning kicks,” said Beatty. “He’s an experienced guy who we can work into the lineup.”

Kick off Saturday at the Apple Bowl between the Sun and Rebels is 7 p.m.

 

 

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