The Westshore Rebels desperately want something the Okanagan Sun possesses.
Ben Macauley’s team has no intention of handing it over.
On Saturday night in Victoria, first place in the B.C. Football Conference will be on the line when the unbeaten Sun (6-0) battles the second-place Rebels (5-1) at Westhills Stadium.
“The way we look at it, we have first place and someone is trying to take it away from us,” said Macauley, the Sun’s first year head coach. “We know it’s a tough road trip, how to get to the island and be rested to play will be a challenge.
“We play a pretty good football team, they have some guys that can make some plays,” he added. “We’re going to have to be at our best, just like every week. Everyone is taking their best shot at us.”
The Sun won the first meeting between the clubs, 27-21 on Aug. 6 at the Apple Bowl.
That night, the Sun did an admirable job of containing the dangerous Jamel Lyles, holding the Rebels’ running back to 113 yards along the ground.
Lyles leads the conference in rushing with 1,066 yards and is well on his way to setting a new BCFC single season record.
Mitigating the damage by the talented back this Saturday night is a test Macauley said his defense will be excited to take on.
“We don’t mind at all, it’s basically daring us to be at our best fundamentally,” said Macauley, whose team has allowed just 94 points in six games. “They’re not doing anything fancy, they’re just running the football and other teams are not tackling.
“He’s going to break some plays, we understand that. But there’s 60 minutes of football and we expect to do some damage ourselves. If it comes down to the last few minutes, I like our chances.”
Coming off a bye week, both the Sun and Rebels will be relatively healthy and well-rested for Saturday’s showdown.
With four games remaining on the schedule, defensive back Raquille Cespedes said the Sun is feeling confident and prepared heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
“The bye week was good, I think we all used it to the best of our abilities and got recharged for the last part of the season,” said Cespedes. “Keeping first place is big challenge for us, and I feel like we’ll be excited and ready to play.
“(The Rebels) are a good team, but when we work together as a team we’re hard to beat.”
The Sun will host the Canadian champion Saskatoon Hilltops on Sept. 17, before wrapping up the regular season with games against the Vancouver Island Raiders on Sept. 24 in Nanaimo, and at home to the Langley Rams on Oct. 2.