With the conference’s hottest defense and B.C. junior football’s most explosive offense on a collision course, Shane Beatty is expecting some fireworks to ensue on Sunday afternoon at the Apple Bowl.
The Okanagan Sun, which allowed just 128 points all year and pitched three shutouts to close out the regular season, will host the defending champion Langley Rams in the BCFC semifinal.
Led by quarterback Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren (12 touchdowns, 571 yards rushing), the quick-strike Rams’ offense averaged a conference-best 44 points per game during the 2013 season.
“They hold the edge in offense…we hold the edge in defence,” said Sun head coach Shane Beatty. “We have some things in store for them and we’ll be well prepared. I’m sure they have some things planned, too. It should be a great game.”
There was plenty of intrigue during the only meeting of the regular season between the clubs on Aug. 24 at the Apple Bowl.
The Sun sprinted out to a 29-0 lead, only to see the Rams erupt for four unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
In the end, Okanagan hung on for 29-28 victory but learned a tough lesson about Langley and big leads in the process.
“We got off to a great start and proved we could compete with them,” said Sun defensive back Brennan Van Nistelrooy. “Then we let our foot off the gas. Clearly, they’re too good of a team to sit back against, so hopefully we won’t make that mistake again. We’ll need to play 60 minutes of football against them.”
In drubbing their opponents by a combined score of 142-0 over the final three weeks of the regular season, Beatty is convinced his club is playing its best football of 2013 heading into the postseason.
And while much of their success is a direct result of execution on the field, Beatty points to the team’s growing chemistry as a key to the Sun’s solid and consistent play of late.
“I think the guys are really comfy at home and they’re going to enjoy going into this challenge together this weekend,” said Beatty. “They’ve really come together as a family and are feeding off each other. Our eight graduating players have been great leaders on this team and are a big reason we are where we are right now.”
Kick off between the Sun and Rams Sunday at the Apple Bowl is 2 p.m.
The winner will take on the victor of Saturday’s other BCFC semifinal in Nanaimo between the Vancouver Island Raiders and Kamloops Broncos.