Sun knock off top dogs

With no disrespect to either Matt Mahler or Keith Zyla, but the Okanagan Sun are a much different, and better team with Jakob Loucks under centre.

The former Mount Allision collegiate returned to the lineup Sunday, and used his arm, and legs, to lead the Sun to a 35-22 victory over the first place VI Raiders.

Loucks had missed the previous three-and-a-half games with a concussion, suffered just before halftime of an 18-18 tie in Victoria.

His return came as the Sun began the second half of the season in what was as close to a must-win game as you could have at this juncture of the season.

While there was some noticeable rust on the veteran recruit, his presence in the pocket, and ability to scramble out of trouble when the need arose was a boost to an offence that has struggled since he went down.

"As you could see during the game, he's a playmaker, and that's why we brought him lout here," said Sun coach Ben Macauley of his signal caller.

"He did what he does best, which is make plays when things are falling apart, and put the ball where it needs to be. Not everything is going to be handed to you...you have to work for it, and Jake's a worker, and that's what we got out of him."

And, he was able to take advantage of field position provided by the opportunistic play of both the defence and special teams.

The defence forced five turnovers while the special teams squad blocked a pair of punts, one which Cole Stroud returned 70 yards for a backbreaking touchdown that put the Sun up 25-14 late in the third quarter.

For the first time this season, the Sun jumped out to a quick lead.

Midway through the first quarter, Loucks capped a five-play, 58-yard drive with a three-yard plunge to put the Sun up 7-0. The drive was keyed by a 26-yard catch and run from Javon Kaechele.

On the next play from scrimmage, Jmin Pelley stripped quarterback Jake Laberge of the ball, and fell on it himself, giving the Sun the ball on the Raiders 18. Two plays later, Loucks hit Brandan Ihanza from 15 yards out to increase the lead to 14-0.

The Raiders returned the favour. On the ensuing drive, Laberge drove the Raiders down the field before Rhett Williams ran in from five yards out to cut the deficit in half. After a Loucks interception, Laberge again marched the Raiders on an eight-play, 52-yard drive.

The drive was aided by a pass interference call in the end zone which placed the ball on the Sun one.

Two plays later, former Sun running back Andre Goulbourne dove in from a yard out to knot the score at 14.

The Sun had a chance to take a big lead heading into the locker room, but managed just four points after moving the ball inside the Raiders five.

An interception at the Raiders six led to a 12-yard Isaac Wegner field goal. Then, a seven-play drive that started at the Raiders 50 accounted for a single point on a wide 13-yard field goal try when a bad snap forced Wegner to hurry his kick.

After Stroud's long touchdown, Loucks put the game out of reach, engineering a six-play, 78-yard drive, capped off by a spectacular 12-yard touchdown reception from diminutive receiver Kian Ishani.

Backup quarterback Cole McGarvey, in the game in place of injured Jake Leberge, ran in a late 19-yard touchdown.

Laberge finished 20 of 46 unofficially for 338 yards and two interceptions. His favourite target, Mike West, hauled in eight passes for 190 yards, as the secondary had a hard time dealing with his size and speed.

"It was a matter of what were we willing to give up. We don't like the downfield stuff, and they got a couple of those things early, then we adjusted our coverage and limited him to underneath throws.

"We'll give away a five yard play all day as long as we're not getting beat deep. That being said, Mike West goes up with two or three guys on his and makes a play.

"Sometimes you just can't defend that. What we have to do a better job of is getting pressure in those situations to force an early throw so we have a chance."

Loucks finished the day 13 of 28 for 210 yards, two touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran the ball five times for 47 yards.

The game was originally scheduled for Saturday evening but was pushed back to Sunday morning after the Raiders encountered all kinds of problems getting to the Okanagan.

Their bus broke down just east of Hope. After a four-hour wait for a replacement but to arrive, they got stuck behind a serious crash on Highway 97C. They didn't get into town until well after the scheduled kickoff.

Sunday's win improved the Sun to 3-2-1 on the season, tied with the Westshore Rebels for 3rd in the BCFC.

The Raiders and Valley Huskers share top spot at 4-2. The Huskers lost 35-19 to the Langley Rams Saturday to drop into the first place tie.

The Sun will host the Huskers next Saturday.


Sun game moved to Sunday

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m.

The Okanagan Sun's home game against the VI Raiders has been postponed until 11 a.m. on Sunday.

The game, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, was delayed after the Raiders team bus broke down on the Coquihalla, and the team is now stuck waiting behind a crash scene on the Okanagan Connector. 

ORIGINAL: 2:00 p.m.

Transportation issues will push the start of Saturday's BCFC game between the Okanagan Sun and VI Raiders back at least a half hour.

The Raiders team bus broke down about 30 kilometres east of Hope.

The team has been able to secure a replacement, but they won't be able to reach Kelowna until late this afternoon.

Sun president Les Weiss says the game, scheduled for a 7 p.m. start, will go ahead as scheduled, but doesn't expect kickoff until 7:30 at the earliest.

The Raiders come into Kelowna with a share of the BCFC lead with the Valley Huskers, both 4-1. The Sun sit third at 2-2-1.

Sun give away two points

It's a rare day when Okanagan Sun head coach Ben Macauley loses his cool with his players during the traditional post game, on-field huddle.

Saturday was one of those rare days.

Macauley was agitated with selfish penalties and poor execution to what he called an inferior Langley Rams squad in a 20-18 defeat in the club's home opener.

"It's just frustrating because I don;t think Langley is even a playoff team. I don't believe they're good enough to be on the same field as us most of the time," he said following the game.

"We handed them two quarters of football. We didn't start playing until the third quarter. We showed we're a better football team for a quarter-and-a-half, and that was good enough."

In a word, the Sun were awful in the opening half. They managed just 70 yards of total offence, and were able to come away with just a pair of single points off the foot of Isaac Wegner.

One off a 76-yard punt single and the other from a wide 28-yard field goal after Connor Richard's blocked punt put the ball on the Rams 37.

The Rams weren't much better, but hit on some big plays right at the end of the quarter. Up 3-1, Jake Firlotte returned a punt 82 yards for the game's first major with less than 90 seconds to go in the half.

Then after a Keith Zyla interception gave the Rams the ball at the Sun 53, Langley needed just three plays to put the second major on the board when Duncan Little hit Jevon Cottoy with an 18-yard strike.

It could have been worse, but a 75 yard touchdown strike to Cottoy was called back when the speedy receiver was flagged for being offside.

With injuries to Jakob Loucks and in the backfield, the offence has had trouble getting untracked over recent weeks. That was no different in the opening half.

"We did a much better job of having the right plays called, but now it's execution.

"We're still missing open receivers. Keith's still shaking off the rust a little bit, but I think he played well enough most times...but we're still getting dropped balls.

We saw what happens when we get the ball into the hands of (Javen) Kaechele and Brenden (Hansen) and (Kelton) Kouri, those guys can make plays. I think we've done a better job with that, but we still have a long way to go."

In the second half, Zyla was able to find those playmakers, especially Kaechele and Kouri.

On their first possession of the second half, Zyla found Kaechele on a slant across the middle. There was nobody near him, allowing Kaechele to stroll in from 37 yards out.

Moments later, Jordan Rae picked off Little giving the Sun offence the ball at the Rams 24. Four plays later, the Sun were first and goal at the one, but Kouri was stuffed behind of the line of scrimmage and fumbled, snuffing out a potential game-typing touchdown..

The Sun did get two points moments later when the Rams conceded the safety after being stopped deep in their own end.

With the momentum back on the side sideline, and the ball at the Rams 30, Zyla needed just two plays to put the Sun back in front. From the 19, he took a high snap while in the shotgun, but still managed to somehow shot put a swing pass over a defender to Kouri, who had enough daylight down the left sideline to find the end zone.

The extra point put the Sun up 18-17.

But, with a little more than two minutes left, and the ball on their own 24, the Rams, aided by 25 yards in penalties, and a 14 yard reception to get to the Sun 43.

On second a 12, Max Joseph was stopped on a screen pass to the left side, but was able to reverse his field and beat the pursuit to the right for a 26 yard gain. They worked the ball inside the five, before Jaden Sheilan booted the game-winning 11-yard field goal with 21 seconds left.

The Sun to the Rams 50 and, with more than a dozen seconds left, Zyla had a chance to run the ball deep into Rams territory, but tried to make a play through the air. A 58 yard field goal try from Wegner came up about five yards short.

"It really never should have come down to one or two plays. We really never should have been close enough for them to run that screen."

Along with the game, the Sun also lost the services of defensive lineman Nicholas Dheilly to an ankle injury early in the third quarter. After the game, Dheilly was on crutches with ice taped to the injured ankle.

Macauley says the injury doesn't appear to be too serious, but said it came as a result of a cheap shot.

"Its a result of players taking low shots on him which the refs have been warned a number of times.

"The film will be reviewed and sent for the league to review, because when guys are taking cheap shots at a guy down low, that can be career ending."

Macauley wouldn't say whether Dheilly or Loucks would be available when the Sun host the first place VI Raiders next Saturday.

The Raiders and Valley Huskers remain deadlocked atop the BCFC standings after lopsided wins Saturday over the Westshore Rebels and Kamloops Broncos respectively.

Both teams are 4-1. The Sun sit at 2-2-1.



Trio of Rebels suspended

While the BC Football Conference stands idle on the field over the Labour Day long weekend, the Westshore Rebels continue to make news off the field.

On the heels on a sudden coaching change comes word from the league that three players from the Rebels have been suspended.

The suspensions were a result of a bench-clearing incident late in a 33-7 loss to the VI Raiders last weekend in which five members of the Rebels were ejected.

Linebacker Cordell Holder received the harshest penalty. He was suspended by the league for the balance of the regular season and playoffs after he was seen kicking a Raider opponent.

Offensive lineman Kolton Henderson and wide receiver Cody Holmes were both suspended for one game. Those suspensions will be served during the Sept. 8 rematch in Nanaimo.

Two other players, offensive lineman Aaron Rose and receiver Kaine Stevenson were ejected during the incident, but avoided suspension.

Prior to that game, head coach Charly Cardilicchia was handed a three game suspension for detrimental comments made about the league following the cancellation of a scheduled game between the Rebels and Kamloops Broncos.

Cardilicchia resigned as head coach of the Rebels following last weekend's game.

Former Okanagan Sun head coach Shane Beatty has taken over the head coaching duties for the balance of the season.

Rebels coach steps down

A face familiar to Okanagan football fans will guide the Westshore Rebels for the balance of the BC Football Conference season.

Former Okanagan Sun head coach Shane Beatty will take over the helm of the club for the balance of the season after head coach Charly Cardilicchia abruptly stepped down Monday evening.

His resignation comes a week after he was suspended for three games by the league for disparaging comments he made about the league to a Kamloops newspaper.

“Due to the details surrounding my suspension I feel it is better for the focus and direction of the Rebels program if I step down as head coach,” said Cardilicchia.

Beatty was hired as head coach of the Okanagan Sun prior to the 2013 season.

During his three seasons with the club, Beatty led the Sun to a combined 27-3 record, including a perfect 10-0 mark during his final season in 2015.

The Sun won the BCFC title that year, before losing in the Canadian Bowl to the Saskatoon Hilltops.

Beatty stepped down following that season, then resurfaced as defensive co-ordinator with the Rebels.

He also played two season with the Rebels in 1988 and 1989.

All six BCFC teams are off this coming long weekend before the second half of the season resumes the following weekend.

Beatty's first game as head coach comes against the VI Raiders in Nanaimo Sept 8.

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