Robbie Yochim electrified the crowd with a pair of long returns for touchdowns, as the Okanagan Sun locked up their first BCFC regular season title since 2009 with a 37-20 victory over the Langley Rams Sunday at the Apple Bowl.
Yochim, a fifth-year defensive back, scored on kick off returns of 105 and 95 yards to lead the Sun to their seventh straight victory and home field advantage throughout the post-season.
Its been a productive month for the 22-year-old Rutland grad who scored three majors on punt returns last weekend against the Westshore Rebels.
Yochim said clinching the conference regular season crown for the first time in his junior career is a credit to the club’s head coach and his Sun teammates.
“Coach Beatty has definitely brought us together as a team,” said Yochim, who also intercepted his fourth pass of the season in the win. “He’s grown the program, and I’ve definitely noticed a change in the last two years. The guys have done a great job, this team is like family and we’re all in this together.”
Thanks to a pair of early Sun miscues Sunday, the Rams jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead, but Okanagan rallied back—Yochim followed up Langley’s first touchdown with a 105-yard return for a score, followed soon after by an Alex Bradley 50-yard TD run and a 14-10 lead.
After the teams went to the locker room tied 17-17, it was all Sun in the second half, much to the satisfaction of the sun-basked crowd of more than 2,000 at the Apple Bowl.
Yochim’s second TD of the day on a 95-yard kick return, a safety, a Thomas Huber field goal and a one-yard plunge from Kasey Russell secured the win and the BCFC regular season title.
“It means everything, it means everything to the kids and the administration of our team,” Beatty said of the title-clincher. “These kids believe, they believe in each other…I’ve never been around a tighter group of kids, it’s phenomenal and just a great feeling. It’s going to galvanize us for the rest of the year.”
Following the game, Sun and Rams players all gathered at the 32-yard line—the number of the late Jt Fernandez—to honour the memory of the 22-year-old Sun linebacker.
Fernandez passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 18.
“JT is never far from our hearts and we love him,” said Sun defensive back Matt McConnell. “We play for him every time we step on the field.”
The Sun will close out the regular season next Sunday against the Kamloops Broncos, then will have a bye on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Sun will host the BCFC semifinal on Saturday, Oct. 18.