Beck Fullerton and the Okanagan Sun will battle Austin Lindo-Brow and the Westshore Rebels in a showdown for top spot this Saturday in Victoria. -Image: Douglas Farrow/Capital News

Sun battle Rebels in first-place showdown

Winner Saturday in Victoria to claim top spot in B.C. Football Conference

The B.C. Football Conference playoffs are still a week away but for all intents and purposes, linebacker Eli Haynes and his Okanagan Sun teammates are already in postseason mode.

A first-place finish—and home field advantage throughout the BCFC playoffs—will be at stake this Saturday night at Westhills Stadium in Victoria when the Sun (8-0-1) battled the second-place Westshore Rebels (8-1-0).

“It’s important for us from a pride standpoint, first place is obviously something you aim for every year,” Haynes said of the value of a win for his Sun on Saturday. “For the playoffs, every team wants to be No. 1 going in. That’s our goal.

“We’re getting into playoff mindset now, not looking too far ahead, just trying to win the next game that’s presented to us.”

A win or a tie would earn the Sun the conference title, while the Rebels must win outright on Saturday to claim first place.

The teams haven’t met since opening week of the 2017 season at the Apple Bowl when the Sun prevailed 19-15.

Having made at least a dozen personnel changes to their roster, the Rebels will be a different team than the one Okanagan saw back on July 29.

Still, with both clubs going unbeaten in the eight games since, Sun head coach Ben Macauley is expecting nothing less than a tightly-contested showdown for first.

“We’re different teams in a number of ways, we’ve had some roster changes, but they’ve really had a lot of turnover, a lot of new faces we didn’t see last time, so we’ll see how they work together,” he said. “The (Rebels) do some things really well and they’ve improved since we saw them. But we feel like we’ve improved, too, we’re a more complete team now.

“It’s a tough place to play,” he added. “I’m sure they’ll be ready and so will we.”

Regardless of the outcome, the Sun will be at home for the BCFC semifinal on the weekend of Oct. 15, against either the Vancouver Island Raiders or Langley Rams.