On a night when Steven Doege stepped into the Canadian Junior Football League record books, not too much else went the Okanagan Sun’s way.
As the veteran defensive lineman was establishing a new career standard for sacks Saturday night in Langley, his club was going down to defeat 34-3 at the hands of the Rams.
The B.C. Football Conference’s new unbalanced schedule—featuring three games each vs the Rams and Vancouver Island—has already hit the Sun hard as the club slips to 1-3 heading into the bye week.
A banged up team from three straight road games, the Sun has plenty time to rest and recuperate, but won’t get a chance to make amends until its next game on Sept. 8.
“The problem going into a bye week is you can’t get rid of that bitter taste, you can’t actively get it of your system right away, some of the guys have already gone home, so that’s the tough part,” said head coach Gavin Lake. “But we’ll try and regroup a little this week, then come back next week ready to practise and make sure we’re ready for the rest of the season.”
Coming off a heartbreaking 30-29 loss to the Raiders a week earlier in Nanaimo, the Sun fell behind early against the Rams Saturday and simply couldn’t muster any push back on offense.
Langley scored on its first two possessions, then put the Sun in a big hole late in the first half when Jordan Linnen picked off a Cam Bedore pass and returned it for touchdown to make it 20-3.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Rams put the game on ice with two more major scores in the fourth.
“The Rams are a highly-skilled group, they’re well-coached and you can’t take anything way from them,” Lake said. “We needed to play our best in all three components against them, and for the bulk of the game, our offense didn’t get that done. You can’t have two first downs in the first half and win.”
One bright spot on offense, according to Lake, was breaking the 100-yard barrier in rushing yards for the first time this season.
Also on the upside of a mostly disappointing night, Lake was generally pleased with the play of his defense which “stayed with the Rams” for the most part but simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter from spending too much time on the field.
Then there was Doege, 21, who picked up 1.5 sacks against Langley to set a new CJFL mark with 37.5 in his impressive junior career of just 34 games.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment and he’s worked very hard to get where he is,” Lake said of Doege. “He has another year and a half he could be playing here, so he has a chance to obliterate the mark. We’re excited for him.”
Dan Ferrier took over the kicking duties and was effective when called upon, including connecting on a 17-yard field goal.
The Sun will be facing must wins pretty much every step of the way in order to stay in the mix for a top-three finish in the BCFC. Okanagan returns to action at home on Sept. 8 for a crucial matchup against the Westshore Rebels (3-1).