A loss is never a satisfactory result for Okanagan Sun head coach Jason Casey.
Still, a 33-20 setback at the hands of the Vancouver Island Raiders Saturday in Nanaimo wasn’t all doom and gloom in the eyes of the Sun coaching staff.
“In hindsight, I don’t think we played awful,” said Casey. “I know that’s not the best way to come out of a game, but we just had a few breakdowns…they were mistakes that are easily correctable.
“There’s absolutely nothing to panic about. We allowed the Raiders to get some points, we lost the second half, but that being said, if we put the time in and fine tune, we’re going to OK. From what I saw, we’re not all that far off.”
With the win, the Raiders (5-0) gain the upper hand on the Sun (4-1) in the battle for top spot in the B.C. Football Conference.
If both teams run the table the rest of the way, the head-on meeting between the arch rivals Oct. 9 at the Apple Bowl will decide first place. The Sun would need to beat the Raiders by 14 points.
On Saturday in Nanaimo, the Raiders jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead before the Sun responded with a pair of second quarter majors of their own.
Jeremy Joseph-Mraovic hooked up with Ben White on a 93-yard pass and run play, while Mravoic added a one-yard score. The first of two field goals by Steve McFadyen gave Okanagan a 17-14 lead at the break.
But the second half belonged to the Raiders who outscored the Sun 19-3. Jordan Yantz fired his third and fourth touchdown passes of the game, while the Raiders added a safety.
Still, the Sun was never out of the game and only a late major by the Raiders with just seconds left on the clock put the score out of reach.
It was the Raiders’ 31st straight win at Caledonia Park.
While it was a subdued ferry and bus ride home for the Sun, receiver Ben White said it didn’t take long for the club to turn the page and shift their focus to the last half of the season.
“It’s tough at the time because you never like to lose, but we know there’s a lot of the season still to go,” said White, 20. “We get another crack at the (Raiders) and we know we can play with them, we’ve shown that. It’s just a matter of working to get better and eliminating some of those mistakes.”
Like the rest of the teams in the BCFC, the Sun will have the upcoming Labour Day weekend off.
Coach Casey likes the timing of the break for his team, both for a change in routine and the chance to reload for the second half of the campaign.
“I think the fact that the whole league gets shut down for a week will be good for our guys, we’ll have what’s like a mini training camp, then give the guys some time off,” said Casey. “You come off an emotional and physical game like that and you get to look back and see what you could have done better. There are lot of ifs and buts, but not in a negative way. We can take what we learned in that game, use it in a positive and continue to be a better football team. This is a talented and deep group of players and I think the best is yet to come.”
The Sun returns to action Sept. 11 at home to the Chilliwack Huskers.