With a roster turnover of nearly 50 per cent from last season and an influx of young, inexperienced talent, the Okanagan Sun expect to be a work in progress early in the 2012 B.C. Football Conference campaign.
That much was evident Saturday afternoon in Salmon Arm as the Sun managed a come-from-behind 15-12 victory over the Kamloops Broncos in pre-season action.
“We had 70 guys dressed and when you have the changes we’ve made, you’re going to get a lot of guys not understanding the tempo of the game, the new plays, the systems they’re really seeing them for the first time,” said first-year head coach Gavin Lake. “In general it was a great experience for our younger guys, our twos and threes (backups) to get in there and see what it was all about.”
The Sun overcame a 9-1 half-time deficit, then needed a 12-yard T.D. pass from rookie quarterback Cam Bedore to Jesse Kendall for the winning points in the fourth quarter.
Linebacker Brandon Donkers scored the club’s other major on a 70-yard interception return in the third quarter.
Lake was fully prepared for the good with the not-so-good in the Sun’s only exhibition game, and that’s precisely what the new head coach saw.
“Our defense, given the rotations that were going on, did a fantastic job,” Lake said. “They were stuck with not too good field position a number of times and really responded well.
“Special teams were outstanding, they suffocated the return game, and our coach (Jamie Boreham) there did a great job with our players.”
On the lower side of the ledger, Lake said neither the kicking game nor the offense were quite up to speed.
“Offensively, we marched the ball reasonably well but we killed ourselves with penalties and some imcomplete passes,” he said. “We have a rookie quarterback (Bedore) who needs some reps and he’s going to get those as time goes on. We have a lot of young guys and this is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Lake and the coaching staff will spend much of the week studying video as they prepare for the Sun’s B.C. Football Conference regular season opener this Saturday night at the Apple Bowl.
The Langley Rams, who knocked off the Sun in the playoffs in 2011, will provide the opposition.
“The Rams are going to be very fast, skilled and athletic,” said Lake. “We’re going to have our hands full, but we’re going to see them three times this season. So we need to recognize that, build on this game by game, and continue to get better.”
Kick off between the Rams and Sun Saturday at the Apple Bowl is 7 p.m.