Mojo, swagger or confidence ?
Whatever definition you prefer, the Okanagan Sun are feeling a lot more like their former selves these days.
A convincing 44-24 victory over the visiting Langley Rams Sunday at the Apple Bowl not only clinched a second-place finish in the BCFC, but ended an ego-deflating three-game losing streak.
“It was huge to get that monkey off our back, we had lost our mojo a little bit, we had some emotional letdowns the last few weeks,” said Sun head coach Ben Macauley. “It was good to be on the other side of that this time.”
The Sun (7-3) also secured home field advantage for the BCFC semifinal on Sunday, Oct. 16 against the same Langley Rams (6-4).
After scoring just one touchdown in the previous nine quarters of play, Macauley’s squad erupted for six majors on Sunday afternoon, while racking up 472 yards in total offence.
Quarterbacks Foster Martens and Keith Zyla combined to throw five touchdown passes, two of them to Lliam Wishart.
Ultra-talented, 6-foot-5 receiver Rashaun Simonise finally broke through with his first major in three games since joining the Sun, snaring a pass from Martens and taking 58 yards to the house early in the fourth quarter.
With the skill the Sun possess on offence, Macauley said it was only a matter of time until the flood gates opened.
“We’ve got playmakers and it was about time we turned catches and first downs into touchdowns,” he said. “That’s something we’ve been missing most of the season, so when guys like Rashaun and Shamar (Donelson) get going and their confidence is up, they’re going to turn those plays into big plays.
“We were happy with the way Foster (Martens) and Keith (Zyla) stepped up.”
Linebacker Layne Hull led another solid effort by the Sun defence, and also chipped in with an eight-yard TD reception on offence.
While the Sun’s confidence may have been waning in recent weeks—none more than on Sept. 17 in a 58-2 loss to Saskatoon—Hull said the key for the Sun was simply working hard and playing solid football.
“It starts in practise, and we practised hard all week and came out flying,” said Hull, the BCFC’s defensive player of the week. “Execution is all it comes down to. We’ve been playing good football at times, but just weren’t putting it together.
“Offence, defense and special teams all looked good, when all three phases are going like that, you’re going to win games.”
As for the rematch with the Rams in two weeks time with everything in the line, Macauley said his club will need repeat its effort from Sunday afternoon.
“The key for us is going to be not measuring against them but against ourselves again, you know not sitting back at all,” Macauley said. “I think our guys are pretty focused just on how to play playoff football.
“Langley’s going to come back probably with some starters ready to go after the bye week, and you know they’re going to be tough.”
The other BCFC semifinal on the weekend of Oct. 15 and 16 will feature an all-island matchup, with the Westshore Rebels playing host to the V.I. Raiders.