With 18 wins in a 19-game stretch dating back to the beginning of last season—including a 6-0 start in 2016—it was almost as if the Okanagan Sun could do no wrong.
No surprise then that the Sun’s recent swoon has stunned many of the club’s veterans like a low body blow.
But as much as a three-game losing skid has been a frustrating and unpleasant exercise, Sun running back Kasey Russell said it just may provide the wake-up call the defending B.C. Football Conference champs sorely need.
“It could be there was a little overconfidence creeping in, you know some guys thinking that is the mighty Okanagan Sun, we’re accustomed to winning… and that’s maybe when you lose focus,” said Russell. “Sometimes you just need a kick in the pants to wake you up. We took a licking from Saskatoon and haven’t been at our best the last couple of games.
“It’s time for all the boys to get back on the same page,” added Russell, “stick together and get things turned around. We have the players and the team to do it.”
The Sun will have a chance to point their campaign back in the right direction on Sunday afternoon when they host the Langley Rams in the BCFC regular season finale.
With each team owning a 6-3 record, second place and home field advantage for the opening round of playoffs are both on the line at the Apple Bowl. The winner will host the BCFC semifinal the following weekend.
With plenty at stake and the home crowd on their side, receiver Lliam Wishart said there’s no better environment for the Sun to get their season back on track.
“The last few weeks have been disappointing and a little embarrassing for us,” said Wishart, who leads the Sun with 36 receptions for 485 yards. “This is definitely a chance for redemption, and to be playing well again heading into the playoffs.
“We have to get back to doing the things we do well, execute better and be more disciplined. If we can do that, we’ll be OK.”
The Sun, whose offence has struggled with just one touchdown in the last nine quarters, have yet to maximize the talents of the newly-signed Rashaun Simonise. The club’s most dangerous weapon, Simonise has seven catches for 133 yards, while returning nine punts for 78 yards in his first two games.
“It would be great to get him more involved,” Kasey Russell said of Simonise, who spent two games at an NFL training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals. “He’s really a freak of nature, an amazing athlete, when you get the ball into his hands it’s exciting to watch. It’s only a matter of time before he breaks a big one.”
Kick off between the Sun and Rams Sunday at the Apple Bowl is 1 p.m.