Jakob Loucks hopes to be ready for Saturday when the Okanagan Sun battle the Valley Huskers in Chilliwack. -Image: James MacKenzie/Black Press

Sun recharge for battle with Huskers Saturday

Okanagan is looking to get back on the winning track after BCFC tie against Westshore last weekend

A late hit late in the first half of last Saturday’s game against the Westshore Rebels sent pivot Jakob Loucks to the sidelines for the duration of the night at Westhills Stadium.

If all goes as planned this week, the Okanagan Sun hope to see its No. 1 quarterback back on the field Saturday at Exhibition Stadium when the B.C. Football Conference Club takes on the Valley Huskers.

“Keeping him out in the second half (against the Rebels) was precautionary, we felt there was nothing to gain by forcing him back in and risking further injury,” head coach Ben Macauley said of Loucks, who played last season with the Mount Allison University Mounties. “He was having trouble with mobility and we wanted to be careful with any symptoms he might be having.

“We think he’ll be OK, we’ll watch him closely this week,” added Macauley, “but with seven games still to go in the season we didn’t want to take any unnecessary chances if we don’t have to.”

Whether Loucks starts or rests in favour of backup Matthew Mahler, the Sun isn’t certain which version of the Valley Huskers they will encounter Saturday—the one that upset the Vancouver Island Raiders 33-31 on opening night; or the one that was soundly drubbed last week (42-9) at home to the Langley Rams.

Regardless, Ben Macauley said his club will be taking nothing for granted.

“The (Huskers) are potentially a physical team, they definitely have some playmakers, and (coach) Bob Reist has done an excellent job with their program. They probably aren’t where they’d like to be but we can’t take anyone lightly. We have to give them the full package and play them like we’d play any team. We expect a hard fought game.”

Last Saturday night in Victoria, with Loucks sidelined and Mahler at the controls in the second half, the Sun (1-0-1) went on to settle for an 18-18 draw with the hometown Rebels (1-0-1).

Down by one point with just six seconds to play, Okanagan could have just as easily departed the island with a victory, but Isaac Wegner’s field goal attempt from 21 yards away sailed wide.

A win on the road against one of the BCFC’s top clubs would have been preferable, but Macauley said the Sun can use the missed opportunity as motivation going forward.

“We try to see it as a positive, but it did feel more like a loss for us than anything, so we can use this to keep us hungry,” said Macauley. “I think what it reinforced was that we’re an even-keeled team. We got down in the last part of the game and Tye Kitzman made a great play to get the block and get the ball for us.

“At no point did we feel like hanging our heads. It says a lot about our team’s resolve…it was good to be challenged early in the season.”

Macauley said the Sun still has “a lot of work to do offensively” but on the upside, the club’s defense continues to live up to all expectations.

The Sun has yielded just 24 points in two games this season, with half of those points coming on turnovers by the offense.

“They’re an impressive group,” Macauley said of the Sun defense. “We have playmakers and all-stars at every position group. They put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks and they can be very opportunistic.”

Kick off Saturday at Exhibition Stadium between the Sun and Huskers is 7 p.m.

Okanagan’s home opener is Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Apple Bowl against the Langley Rams.

Dheilly player of week…

Sun defensive lineman Nick Dheilly is the BCFC’s special teams player of the week.

The former University of Regina Rams star had four sacks, two tackles and one assisted tackle in Saturday’s 18-18 tie with the hometown Westshore Rebels.

“He has incredible speed and awareness,” Ben Macauley said of Dheilly. “Everybody’s when he gets on the field, to see what’s going to happen.”

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