No, the Langley Rams aren’t the Vancouver Island Raiders.
Still, head coach Jason Casey is urging his Okanagan Sun to take nothing for granted heading into the BCFC semifinal Sunday afternoon at the Apple Bowl—particularly on the heels a disappointing 35-3 home field loss to the Raiders last weekend.
“Sunday showed that you can’t go into a game and not perform just because you had an excellent practice, expect things to go your way and have teams lay down for you,” said Casey. “We, every coach and player, will correct our mental mistakes that cost us first place, and be ready for the Rams.”
In the two regular season meetings between the clubs, the Rams gave the Sun all they could handle.
On Aug. 6 at the Apple Bowl, the Sun emerged from a wild, 42-point fourth quarter with a 33-23 win. A week later in Langley, Okanagan came from behind in the final minutes for a narrow 15-14 victory.
However, in the two months since—with the exception of last Sunday’s loss—Casey said his team has shown considerable improvement in every facet of the game.
Player for player, and pound for pound, Casey remains steadfast and confident that his club can compete with any junior team in Canada.
“Langley gave us two great scares in weeks two and three, however, we are not the same team we were then,” said Casey.
“We are night and day better now than we were then. It certainly didn’t show Sunday, but our squad is extremely talented.
“I still would put our guys up against any other team in the country.”
One of the keys to the Sun’s success Sunday will be stopping, or at the very least, limiting the damage done by Rams receiver and kick returner Nick Downey.
The Rams biggest offensive threat, Downey scored a BCFC-leading 15 touchdowns this season.
Kick off Sunday at the Apple Bowl between the Sun and Rams is 2 p.m., with the winner advancing to the BCFC title game.
Barring a major upset this weekend, the championship game will be played in Oct. 22. in Nanaimo, home of the defending champion Raiders.
The Raiders (10-0) will host the Westshore Rebels (5-5) in the other semifinal on Saturday.
Vancouver Island routed the Rebels in both meetings this season, 52-8 and 72-6.