Sun battles Rebels for Canadian Bowl berth

Defending champs from the Okanagan head to Victoria for the B.C. Football Conference final on Saturday afternoon.

Nathaniel Anderson and the Okanagan Sun will take on the Westshore Rebels Saturday in Victoria in the BCFC championship game.

The last time they played in Victoria, the Okanagan Sun set a new team record.

It may have ultimately cost them the game.

On Sept. 10, the Sun racked up a whopping 32 penalties for 231 yards, yet still took the Westshore Rebels down to the final seconds before losing 29-23.

It should come as little surprise then that Ben Macauley and his coaching staff will be stressing discipline when the teams meet this weekend for the B.C. Football Conference championship.

Kick off at Westhills Stadium in Langford is 4 p.m.

“We shot ourselves in the foot with all those penalties, we thought maybe some weren’t justified, but in the end they really hurt us,” said Sun coach Ben Macauley. “Take some of those away and it could have been a very different game.

“I take full responsibility for allowing it to happen,” he added. “I think we’ve done a better job lately of eliminating some of those and cleaning things up, so I expect our guys to show more discipline (on Saturday).”

On paper, the Sun and Rebels couldn’t really be any better matched. The clubs split two regular season meetings and each scored 50 points in the process.

While Westshore will have home field advantage, the Sun have the edge in big-game experience with more than 30 players returning from last year’s Cullen Cup winning team.

Still, Macauley doesn’t expect either the venue or his team’s experience to be overriding factors come Saturday afternoon.

“It’s an intimate stadium, not a lot of people, but it’s quite loud,” Macauley said of the Rebels’ home park. “But once the game starts, our focus will be entirely on what’s happening on the field, so I don’t see it as a big factor.

“The experience will be a benefit to us, but not something that’s going to help us win the game itself,” Macauley added. “We fully expect this one to be decided in the fourth quarter. It’s playoff football and both teams are going to be fighting to the finish.”

Led by outstanding player Jamel Lyles, the Rebels are hoping to be sharper than they were in a nail-biting 34-29 semifinal win over the VI Raiders two weeks ago.

The Sun hit a rough patch late in the regular season with three straight losses, but have since rebounded with a pair of wins over Langley.

Rebels coach J.C. Boice fully expects the Sun to be a formidable opponent this weekend.

“They’re a good football team. They’d been in a bit of a slump, but they played really good football against Langley,” Boice said of the Sun.

“They’re very good on defence, they’re very good at running the ball and they’ve got some good (receivers) on the perimeter.”

The Sun expect to have quarterback Foster Martens ready to start on Saturday afternoon. The 20-year-old pivot left the BCFC semifinal against Langley in the second quarter after taking a hit to the head.

The Cullen Cup champion will play host to the Canadian Bowl on Saturday, Nov. 12.