Like any head coach, Ben Macauley expected to see ebbs and flows from his Okanagan Sun during the course of the 2017 B.C. Football Conference season.
With their play the last three weeks slipping a little below the expected standard, Macauley said it’s time for the Sun to restore the brand of football that saw them bolt out to a 5-0 start while outscoring their opponents 205-50.
“Part of that is our mindset, you kind of switch into a not-lose mindset as opposed to continuing to attack, dominating, being physical and playing like we know we can,” said Macauley, who gained some inspiration this week from UBC Thunderbirds’ head coach Blake Nill.
“I got a nice word of advice from Blake,” Macauley added. “He said other teams work just as hard for success as you do, we’re not the only ones putting in the work to be ready to play. We have to continue to work at improving and getting better everyday if we want to keep having success and moving forward as a team.”
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Sun (7-0-1) will look to remain atop the BCFC when they host the Langley Rams Sunday at the Apple Bowl. Kick off is 1 p.m.
It’s been an up-and-down campaign for the Rams (4-4-0) who underwent a coaching change in the last week. Khari Jones stepped down and has been replaced with a former head man in Langley, Jeff Alamolhoda.
Whatever disruptions the coaching switch may or may not have caused in Langley, Macauley said his club needs to be prepared for a Rams’ team that could potentially ruin the Sun’s plans of a first-place finish.
“They’ve had some adversity there off the field (with the coaching change), so we can’t be sure which version of that team is going to show up,” he said. “Their quarterback (Rylan Matters) has been coming on of late, they do some strong tackling on D…we have to get back to playing our best football. They can spoil our plans, so we’re going to be challenged and need to be ready.”
Undermined by a handful of injuries to key players, the Sun is coming off what could be described as a pedestrian effort Saturday in Kamloops.
The Sun defense was typically solid in a 20-10 win over the 1-7-0 Broncos, but Okanagan struggled to find much consistency on offense.
With the likes of receiver Liam Crane, guard Marshall Klein, defensive backs Beck Fullerton and Aldrich Berrios (playing with Heat basketball), and lineman Connor Novak all sidelined, the Sun still found a way to do what was necessary to keep their unbeaten season in tact.
“I think we were happy to come away with the win,” Macauley said. “It was a scrappy Kamloops team, a little surprisingly more ready to go than we thought.
“We struggled offensively and a number of injuries on both sides of the ball didn’t help. We would have liked to put up more points but we’ll take the win.”
Receiver Nate Anderson was the offensive catalyst for the Sun, catching six passes for 131 yards and scoring both Sun touchdowns, one each from Keith Zyla and Nick Wenman. Zyla left the game in the first half with a back injury and didn’t return.
Mitch Lyons had two of the Sun’s four QB sacks on defense, while Tye Kitzman made his league-leading sixth interception.
In what could well be showdown for first place, the Sun will close out the BCFC regular season Oct. 7 in Victoria against the defending champion Westshore Rebels (7-1-0).