The last three weeks hasn’t been an inspiring stretch of football for the Okanagan Sun.
With plenty at stake this Sunday afternoon, the Sun will have a chance to make amends when they host the Langley Rams to close out the B.C. Football Conference regular season.
With both clubs sitting at 6-3, the winner will claim second place and earn the right to host the other team in the BCFC semifinal the following weekend.
“We know we’re going to play the (Rams) two weeks in a row and that’s tough against any team, so it’s matter of us finding a way to rise up to the challenge,” said Sun head coach Ben Macauley. “As tough as it’s been for us lately, there have been a lot of good things, so we just have to focus on those and stay positive.
“Two of the three (losses) were close games, went right down to the finish and with a couple of breaks, we could be in first place. But that’s not the case and we need to make the most of this opportunity.”
Currently on a three-game slide, the low point of the Sun’s season came on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Apple Bowl—a 58-2 throttling at the hands of the Canadian champion Saskatoon Hilltops.
Then last Saturday in Nanaimo, the Sun sputtered again, losing 14-8 to the Vancouver Island Raiders.
With three losses and just one touchdown to show for the last nine quarters of play, the Sun’s collective confidence has taken a considerable bruising in recent weeks.
Quarterback Foster Martens said Sunday’s game is the ideal opportunity to reload and salvage something positive from a roller coaster season.
“Our biggest challenge is the mental aspect,” said Martens. “This has been a winning program for the last few years, a successful organization and we need to live up to that. It’s a matter of getting back up, taking a look at our mistakes and putting in the work to correct them.
“The last few weeks have been a real gut check for us,” he added. “We need to have a real good week of practise, get our focus and our mojo back and make a statement against Langley.”
Penalties have been problematic for the Sun this season, none more than last weekend against the Raiders when they racked up an eye-popping team record 32 infractions for 231 yards.
Not surprisingly, Macauley has addressed his club’s lack of discipline.
“We were emotional and frustrated, took some bad penalties in Nanaimo,” said Macauley. “As the head coach, that rests with me, and our veterans also have to take leadership in that regard. We’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and that has to change.”
Adding to the challenge on offense for the Sun is the loss of two of their top running backs from the lineup. Abdi-Nasir Abdi (hamstring, ankle) and Brendan Hansen (hamstring) have both been sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Kick off between the Sun and Rams Sunday at the Apple Bowl is 1 p.m.