Okanagan Sun defenders Matt McConnell and Jack Rush (right) will take on Marshall Cook and the Vancouver Island Raiders Saturday in Nanaimo.

Sun primed for island visit

First-place Okanagan Sun battle Raiders Saturday in Nanaimo in B.C. junior football action

On most occasions over the last half dozen years, the Okanagan Sun have found themselves in an underdog role against the Vancouver Island Raiders.

Based on the first meeting of the 2013 season between the clubs last month, Saturday’s matchup in Nanaimo takes on a markedly different tone.

The Sun, who shut down V.I. 17-3 on Aug. 3 in Kelowna, are unbeaten in five games this season, while the re-tooling Raiders are 3-2.

Still, while the Sun may be favoured on paper, veteran safety Jack Rush expects another typical knock-down, drag-’em-out affair this weekend between the two intense junior football rivals.

“Getting ready for the Raiders, it always feels a little different, it’s intense and you know it’s going to be a battle,” said Rush, 21, the BCFC leader in overall defensive statistics. “We don’t like to lose to them and I know the same goes for them. Nanaimo is a tough place to play. Everybody is hyped and ready to play this game.”

A perennial powerhouse, the Raiders are in a mild rebuilding mode this summer, looking for ways to compensate for the loss several veterans, including all-star and record-setting quarterback Jordan Yantz.

And while V.I. coach Matt Blokker says his club has made significant strides since the first encounter between the clubs, the Sun of 2013 is as diverse and talented a ball club as he’s seen come out of Kelowna in years.

“The Sun is full of confidence right now and that’s one thing that can be pretty tough to break,” said Blokker. “We have to improve our consistency from last time or we won’t be in the ball game. We feel we’re a better team, but they look really good all-round, too.

“They have one of the better defences we’ve seen in a long time, I don’t think they get the credit they deserve,” he added, “and they’re well-coached and well disciplined.”

Unlike many past games on the Island where the Sun would travel and play the same day, the club will leave a day early and stay overnight Friday in Nanaimo.

With that in mind, Rush says bus legs and fatigue won’t be a factor.

“It’s nice when you don’t have to worry about the travelling part of the game,” said Rush, who has 19 tackles and three interceptions this season. “Staying over, you get up well-rested and you’re ready to play. I think that’s going to be huge for us in this one.”

If the Sun can leave the Island with a victory, it would be another big step towards locking up top spot in the BCFC and home field advantage throughout the post-season.

Even if Okanagan doesn’t recover its overturned win against Chilliwack, the Sun could still finish 9-1, good enough for a BCFC title. Still, with the Raiders yet to come and two games each against Kamloops and Chilliwack remaining, Rush insists his teammates aren’t looking too far ahead.

“We’re taking it week by week, nothing more than that,” Rush said. “This is a big game for us, so this is all we’re looking at right now. Having said that, it would be great to be first and home for all the playoffs and that’s the goal. But we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Meanwhile, the Sun (4-1) is still awaiting word on its appeal with the BCFC regarding the club’s forfeited win against Chilliwack on July 27 due to an ineligible player.

The two sides will meet with an arbitrator on Sept. 10 to discuss the situation.

According to Sun GM Jay Christensen, the time frame for a final decision is unknown.

The Sun’s next home action is Sunday, Sept. 29 vs the Chilliwack Huskers.

 

Just Posted

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: the warm sun is sticking around

Environement Canada forcasts sun, no clouds for Wednesday

TKI Construction looks forward to being part of Rutland

The company is renovating the old AG Outdoor Superstore

Rockets’ tiebreaker for playoff berth a franchise first

The Rockets travel to Kamloops for a do-or-die match against the Blazers

‘Our sales are hurting’ Kelowna music hub takes hit after big competition moves in

Milkcrate Records still taking a hit after Sunrise Records moved into town 2 years ago

Construction set to begin on new roundabout in Lake Country

Construction is scheduled from April until July

The UBC Innovation Library has helped over 1,100 students since opening in 2015

Students across B.C. can access their academic resources at the UBC Innovation Library

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Avalanche control tomorrow on Highway 1

Expect closures of up to two hours east of Revelstoke

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

Most Read