The top two teams in the BCFC this season will meet next weekend in the league championship game.
The regular season champion Okanagan Sun won their ninth straight Sunday afternoon at the Apple Bowl with a convincing 47-16 thumping of the Vancouver Island Raiders in one semi-final.
The Sun will face the Langley Rams in next Sunday's title game after Langley edged out the Kamloops Broncos 48-46 in the other semi.
Sunday, the Sun rode the arm of quarterback Cam Bedore early before the running game finally got untracked.
Bedore threw touchdown passes of 51 yards to Thomas Huber and 74 yards to Lerone Robinson in the opening quarter as the Sun opened an insurmountable 20-1 lead.
"Big plays have been key for us all year...we need those big plays here and there just to get the momentum going and get our defence and special teams fired up," says Bedore.
"Our offence plays really well against these guys and at this point of the season we are just firing on all four cylinders.
On his opening possession, facing second and nine, Bedore was flushed out of the pocket and sprinted toward the line of scrimmage before heaving a bullet down field hitting Huber in stride for the first score of the afternoon.
Minutes later, after recovering a fumble on the Raiders three, Alex Bradley barreled his way in from three yards out and the Sun were on their way.
It was on their next possession when Bedore showed off his accuracy and arm strength.
Bedore heaved a 50 yard bomb to Robinson who had gained a step on his defender.
Robinson didn't break stride as he hauled in the rainbow and burst into the end zone for a 20-1 lead.
"I like to try and shoot the moon every now and then. The receivers don't exactly like it because they have to wait for it a little too long...but it gives them a chance to get as far downfield as possible and get as much separation as possible," says Bedore.
"Lerone did a great job of getting that separation and made a great catch."
The Sun offensive line wore down the Raiders defensive front the rest of the way allowing both Bradley and Dillon Fortune to break a couple of long runs.
Bradley scored his second major of the game on a 69 yard run down the right sidelines in the second quarter after taking a pitch from Bedore.
Fortune closed out the offesnive portion of the scoring with a 61 yard scamper down the left sidelines to put the Sun ahead 37-8 late in the third quarter.
Elias Rodriguez scored the final Sun major when he fell on a muffed punt in the Raiders end zone.
Thomas Huber connected on a pair of field goals and converted four of the five touchdowns to close out the scoring for the Sun.
"I'm really proud of these kids. They came out and they executed the game plan really well, says an elated head coach Shane Beatty.
"They stuck together and played sound football in all three phases. I couldn't be happier.
Unofficially, the Sun finished with 409 yards of total offence including 226 through the air.
The Raiders, who couldn't get many sustained drives on offence, finished with 307 yards.
Quarterback Liam O'Brien was 16 of 31 through the air for 217 yards and one touchdown.
He was intercepted once and sacked seven times as they Sun front seven kept the pressure on him all game long.
While the Sun planned to run the football as much as possible, Beatty says he wasn't concerned when the running game sputtered early on.
He says the game plan was to try and run inside then attack the outside which led to the two long touchdown runs.
As for Bedore's early performance, Beatty says his veteran quarterback stepped up when he was needed.
"We're a defence and special teams program and we play sound offence and run the ball. Cam stepped up today when we needed him as a leader because we couldn't run against them.
We had to make some adjustments and coach Lindsay did a really good job of it."
The defence, which led the league with a plus 35 turnover ratio, forced six more turnovers Sunday while the offence gave the ball away just once on a failed third down fake punt.
The Sun and Rams will meet next Sunday for the fourth time this season.
The Sun held a 2-1 edge over the regular season.
In fact, their only defeat this season came at the hands of the Rams, a 33-20 loss in Langley back during the second week of the season.
Kickoff next Sunday is 1 p.m. at the Apple Bowl.
Tickets for that game are available through the Okanagan Sun website.
The Okanagan Sun will try to do something Sunday they have never done before - beat the Vancouver Island Raiders in a playoff game.
In six previous post season meetings between the two teams, the Raiders are 6-0, outscoring the Sun 198-101 including a 16-14 win four years ago in the lone playoff game between the two teams at the Apple Bowl.
While the Sun are looking to break a playoff goose egg...it's the Raiders who are trying to get 'off the schneid' this season.
The Raiders, perennial BCFC champions, lost all three meetings to the Sun this season, including a 38-0 shellacking in their only trip to the Apple Bowl.
"I think it gives our kids confidence going in..we know we can beat them," says Sun coach Shane Beatty
"It obviously leaves a little cast of doubt in their mind I would imagine."
Beatty will be back patrolling the Sun sidelines this weekend after serving a one game suspension for what was termed a breach of the coaches conduct policy.
"(It was) very difficult," says Beatty of missing the season finale against Kamloops.
"Like Father Gary said I felt like I was stuck in a room with no toys. But we've moved on and that's in the past now."
Despite the lopsided season series, the Sun outscored the Raiders 121-27, Beatty expects a good football game Sunday.
"They're a good football team. They're coached very well and they are very young," says Beatty.
"They are getting better every game ... and we're ready for them. It's going to be a slugfest."
While he expects a good game, Beatty also understands the mental challenge of trying to beat a team you have lost to on multiple occasions.
"I've been in that boat where I've lost to a team twice and the kids have a little doubt in their mind - a little mental block. Something starts to go wrong and it's like here we go again.
I don't see them coming in with the thought process of hey, they can't beat us a fourth time. We've beat them three times, we can beat them a fourth."
As has been the mantra all season, the Sun expect to run the football lots against the Raiders defence.
In their three wins the Sun rushed for a combined 788 yards. Dillon Fortune ran for a combined 275 yards while league rushing leader Alex Bradley ran for 127 in just two games.
Beatty says the game plan remains the same...run the football. He says the club will dress five running backs for the game Sunday.
The one anomaly was a 64-20 win in Nanaimo when the Sun passed for 411 yards.
Quarterback Cam Bedore, who will start Sunday, has 18 of 24 for 351 yards and four touchdowns.
While the Sun are expected to stay on the ground, the Raiders are likely to keep the ball in their air.
In three games, the Raiders amassed 866 yards through the air against the Sun.
Starting quarterback Liam O"Brien completed 61 of 88 passes for 831 yards against the Sun with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Sunday's game kicks off at 1 p.m. at the Apple Bowl.
The winner Sunday will face the winner of the other semi-final between the Langley Rams and Kamloops Broncos in the BCFC title game.
Seven members of the Okanagan Sun were named to the BC Football Conference all-star team Monday.
It included three offensive players and three on the defensive side of the ball.
Running back Alex Bradley led the list and the league, rushing with 672 yards in the BCFC despite missing two games due to injury.
It's Bradley's second consecutive all-star selection.
Michele Vecchio and Cliff Crews, two of the hogs up front who helped open holes for Bradley and his running mates, were also named to the all-star squad.
As for the defence, defensive back Robbie Yochim and Brennan Van Nistlerooy were both named to their third straight all-star teams.
Yochim, who is expected to be named the league's top special teams player next week, led the Sun with four interceptions. He also had a blocked kick.
Van Nistlerooy had two sacks, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
A third defensive back, Dexter Janke was also named to the squad after registering three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Defensive lineman Zac Ironstand rounded out the Sun selections. He had six sacks and one fumble recovery along with 12 tackles and five assists.
The Langley Rams led the way with eight players named to the all-star team.
The VI Raiders had four players named to the team, Kamloops and Westshore had three while Chilliwack had one.
The All-Star returner and major award winners will be announced next week.
The BCFC playoffs kick off next weekend.
The regular season champion Okanagan Sun will host the Vancouver Island Raiders Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in one semi-final while the Langley Rams entertain Kamloops Saturday afternoon in the other.
The winners meet in the BCFC title game and a chance to host the national championship against the Prairie Conference winner.
The Okanagan Sun gathered Monday night for their annual post-season awards banquet.
Following a 9-1 regular season and a first place finish in the BCFC, it was a jovial Sun squad that gathered to receive some hardware.
After setting team, Conference and CJFL records this season Rutland Senior Secondary grad Robbie Yochim was named the team's MVP.
Here is the list of records Yochim set this year:
- New team record for kick-off return yards in a single game with 264 in Week 10 vs. Langley Rams
- New CJFL record for punt returns for touchdowns in a single game with 3 in Week 9 vs. Westshore Rebels
- New BCFC career record for punt returns with 156
- New team record for career kick-off return yards with 1,693
He also led the club with four interceptions and 34 solo tackles.
Yochim becomes the second RSS grad to win MVP in the last three years.
Steven Doege won the MVP in 2010, 2011, 2012..
Other 2014 award winners include:
- Scoring Leader – Thomas Huber (kicker/receiver) – second consecutive year
- Community Award – Kyle Patchell (receiver)
- Most Inspirational Player in memory of JT Fernandez – Brennan Van Nistelrooy (defensive back)\
- Most Improved Player – Cord Delinte (defensive back)
- Okanagan High School Player of the Year – Josiah Joseph (quarterback, Mt Boucherie Grad)
- Most Popular Player (voted by the players) – Robbie Yochim (defensive back/return specialist)
- Most Sportsmanlike Player – Thomas Huber (kicker/receiver)
- Special Teams Player – Robbie Yochim (returner/defensive back) - fourth consecutive year
- Top Defensive Back – Brennan Van Nistelrooy - second consecutive year
- Top Linebacker – Ron Mwamba
- Top Offensive Back – Alex Bradley (running back) - third consecutive year
- Top Receiver – Lerone Robinson
- Top Defensive Lineman – Zac Ironstand - second consecutive year
- Top Offensive Lineman – Cliff Crews and Michele Vecchio
- Rookie of the Year – Keagan Hughes
The Sun will now begin preparation for the Vancouver Island Raiders in the BCFC Semi-Final on Sunday October 19 at 1:00pm at the Apple Bowl.
If the Sun win on Sunday, they will host the Cullen Cup BCFC Championship game on October 26 for the first time since 2010.
The winner of the BCFC will host the National Championship Canadian Bowl on November 8, 2014.
No coach...no problem...sort of!
The Okanagan Sun fought through a sudden suspension of head coach Shane Beatty scoring 31 unanswered second half points to beat the visiting Kamloops Broncos 38-19 Sunday at the Apple Bowl.
Beatty was suspended by the BC Football Conference Saturday night for what team GM, Jay Christensen, called a breach of the coaches conduct policy.
He didn't get into specifics.
"Our viewpoint was Shane was in a private conversation with a coach from another team and that conversation should have stayed private," says Christensen.
"They decided, for whatever reason, to escalate it to the league level and at that point the league was forced to do what it did. We respect their decision but don't think it should have been elevated that far."
Christensen says right now, it's just a one game suspension pending review.
"I can't imagine it being more than that for what happened."
On the field Sunday the Broncos took advantage of a shaky Sun defence to build up a 16-7 lead by halftime.
The Sun hit the scoreboard first when Cam Bedore, making his first start after missing two weeks with injury, hit Thomas Huber on a 35-yard touchdown strike. The touchdown came one play after Ron Mawamba intercepted Kamloops pivot Steve Schuweiler.
The Broncos took over from there.
After the Sun conceded a safety, the Broncos scored back-to-back touchdowns.
Schuweiler hit Jacob Palmarin for a 25 yard major following a fake punt then connected with Jesse Neufeld from 15 yards out in the dying second to put the Broncos up 16-7.
Offensive coordinator, Tony Lindsay, handled the head coaching chores in Beatty's absence.
He says not having the head coach around may have had something to do with the slow first half.
"I would say that. We were a little caught off guard. It was a little different not having him here but we made some adjustments, minimized the penalties after half time and came out in the third quarter and played completely different," says Lindsay.
The Broncos amassed 204 yards of total offence in the opening half including 145 through the air.
They again moved the ball on their opening drive of the second half culminating in Aaron Smit's 37 yard field goal. That would be the end of the Broncos scoring.
After accumulating just 168 yards in the opening half including 68 through the air, a planned change in quarterbacks sparked the Sun.2:44 into the third quarter to put the Broncos up by 12, but that's all they would get.
Josiah Joseph engineered scoring drives on the next three Sun possessions putting them up by 11 after three quarters.
Joseph hit Huber with a 39 yard scoring strike pulling the Sun within five.
Alex Bradley capped off the next drive with a six yard run and Fortune hit pay dirt the next time the Sun touched the ball running in from two yards out.
Fortune's touchdown came after Wes Geisler's first of two interceptions.
Joseph then hit Hunter Verhulst from six yards out in the fourth quarter before Huber closed out the scoring with a 32 yard field goal.
The Sun racked up 226 yards of offence in the second half including 145 through the air. The defence held the Broncos to just 17 yards and forced four turnovers.
Joseph, who completed 12 of the 16 passes he attempted for 145 yards and two touchdowns looked more comfortable behind centre than he has all season.
"Yea, I think I felt a little more comfortable with the offence. Being that we have such a good defence, every time we go out on offence it kind of calms you down," says Joseph.
Jospeh says it does help watching from the sidelines to get an idea what the other team is doing defensively before getting a chance to get into the game.
"It definitely helps a little bit. I was talking to Cam constantly when he came off," says Joseph.
"He was giving me tips to it definitely helps."
The Sun finished the regular season atop the BCFC standings after winning their last eight in a row.
They get a week off before hosting the fourth place Vancouver Island Raiders in one of two BCFC semi-finals Sunday, Oct 19.
Kickoff is 1 p.m.
The BCFC champion will host the Canadian Championship in early November.
Game Notes: As it turned out, both teams played without their head coach Sunday. Earlier in the week the BCFC suspended Kamloops head coach Duncan Olthuis after the Broncos and Vancouver Island Raiders were involved in a brawl near the end of last Saturday's game in Kamloops
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