The football season is about to kick off with a good old fashioned VI Raiders-Okanagan Sun game.
The BC Football Conference regular season kicks off this Saturday, July 23 as the Raiders host the ever-strong Sun at Q’unq’inuqwstuxw Field, formerly known as NDSS Community Field.
Days before game day, Raiders coach Curtis Vizza was loving the way his team looked.
“I’m ecstatic where we are,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of new talent brought in, we’ve got guys who are hungry, guys who are moving across the country to be here.”
He said the Raiders got a new look in different ways.
“The game plans, the way we do things as a team, the way the guys fit in, how they bonded, I’m extremely happy with where we are,” Vizza said.
He said the team has added talent to every position.
For the first time in six years, the Raiders enter the season with a new starting quarterback, Ben Chomolok, who backed Jake LaBerge last season in the veteran’s final year of junior eligibility.
“He’s seen what the game is like, he knows what to expect with the speed of the game,” Vizza said.
The Raiders will look to capitalize on their QB’s impressive arm strength, but anticipate a “healthy mix” between running and passing games.
“We have very good athletes as running backs,” Vizza said. “We know we have to put the ball in their hands so they can make plays for us. Our offensive line looks pretty sharp and big and strong this year, so we’re going to do our best to move bodies and give our running backs some room to work.
On defense, the Raiders entered the offseason knowing they needed to take care of their linebacking corps and secondary, and Vizza said the club had been successful in that regard, adding “solid players.” with courage, intelligence and experience. The Raiders will have big bodies in the defensive field that can play physical football and create turnovers. The team believes a better balanced defense this year will impact games in different ways.
“It makes it much easier for us to plan and insert plays and to be creative with our defense,” Vizza said. “So we’re able to try things that we haven’t been able to try in the past due to experience, as well as being able to read on the pitch and know what the offenses are doing.”
Facing the sun in week 1 will be a challenge. Okanagan beat VI in a semi-final blowout from British Columbia last fall, though that team has a new head coach and numerous roster overhauls.
“We’re going to compete as hard as we can and they’re going to show us where our strengths are, where our weaknesses are,” Vizza said.
GAME ON… The Raiders and Sun will play Saturday, July 23 at 5:30 p.m. at Q’unq’inuqwstuxw Field. To see the Raiders’ full BCFC schedule, visit www.viraiders.ca.