After last week’s column that saw me pre-maturely write off the Kamloops Broncos play-off chances this week officially saw the 4 play-off tickets punched as the Rebels, Sun, Rams and Raiders are officially moving on. But with 2 weeks to go in the regular season we have storylines beyond the play-offs to talk about. Monday Musings for week eight.
How far will the Westshore Rebels go in the play-offs? It all depends on which team shows up to play. Will we see the undisciplined Rebels that fell behind 27-11 to the Rams and took more penalties in the first half than one would think possible or the focused and talented Rebels that outscored the Rams 22-1 in the second frame? Rebels head coach Charly Cardilicchia suggested in yesterday’s Victoria Times Colonist that his club is perhaps being unfairly singled out by the officials. This might or might not be true, but at the end of the day penalties will cost you in the play-offs, there is no denying that.
The Rebels franchise occupied 4 of the top 5 spots for penalties in a season going into this year, setting the record with 182 last season. And with 154 to date in 2017, this year’s club sits 5th all time already and has a good opportunity to set a new benchmark. Some records you just want to avoid, however.
With 1478 penalty yards this year they also are a pretty sure thing to break the single-season penalty yard mark of 1529.
Last week I suggested that the VI Raiders were the team the Sun and Rebels feared most in the play-offs and that the Rams were not as big an upset threat. This weekend the Rebels gift wrapped them 17 first-half points and a 27-11 halftime lead already discussed and the best they were able to do with it was cough it up like a cat with a bad hairball. The only hope the Rams have against the Rebels if these teams meet again is if the Rebels forget what time kickoff is.
The Chilliwack Progress reached out to me last week, taking some issue with the commentary that coverage of the Huskers was lacking and at least in part contributing to poor fan support at the stadium. Reporter Eric Welsh, as well as the paper’s publisher, pointed to stories they had written as well as game ads they ran for the club at no charge. I stand corrected to a degree as I wasn’t aware of ads donated that don’t show up online where I view the coverage. And while I do still think coverage has fallen off a bit the last few weeks, the early season features were in depth. Additionally, our clubs can always do a better job of working with the media in our markets, if we want coverage it’s on us to assist the media as it seems there are cutbacks every month where they are and their schedules are stretched razor thin.
It was nice to see the Progress does care about the coverage it gives the Huskers if nothing else.
Was a huge marketing opportunity lost this weekend in Kamloops? My favorite BCFC stadium is Hillside in Kamloops and they are my favorite fans by far. That place is generally close to capacity and the fans are very vocal, especially considering the home side has struggled over the years to really give them something to go wild about. The crowd Saturday night, for its perennially largest draw was disappointing though as the crowd for the Broncos/Sun game was on the sparse side. This was likely a by-product of going head to head with the home opener for the Kamloops Broncos, coincidently against the Kelowna Rockets. You don’t go head to head with hockey in this country if you can avoid it, that is a battle we are never going to win, especially on a home opening night.
I don’t know if Hillside was available for an afternoon game but wouldn’t a doubleheader of Blazer/Broncos and Rockets/Sun fans have been something? The Blazers are already supportive of the Broncos franchise and might have jumped on board in a major way, something to think about for next year?
Khari Joseph resigned for “personal reasons” as head coach of the Langley Rams last week, although in an interview with Gary Ahuja in the Langley Times he cited not seeing eye to eye with all members of the organization. Fair to speculate that Joseph might have chosen to leave before he was pushed out based on his own words, only he and the executive of the Rams know for sure. I’ve been involved with junior football for over a couple decades and sat on boards that let coaches go, sometimes the decisions are easy to make, other times not so much. As an outsider, I don’t know what kind of a head coach Khari Joseph was, but I do know you won’t hear a bad word said about him. The world of junior football is pretty thankless, but head coaches are generally the only ones who have to answer to others, which is unfortunate considering how little or non-existent the pay is. Such is the life of a head coach, they get the glory so have to expect the pressure to win as well.
Khari expressed interest in getting back involved with the Rams at a position other than head coach and Rams President Dana Matheson seemed interested in that as well. Hopefully, we see Khari back.
Speaking of the Rams coaching situation, former VI Raiders head coach Matt “Snoop” Blokker left his club, the Calgary Colts of the PFC last week. After three straight years appearing in the PFC championship game, the Colts were struggling this season, I don’t know if that played a role in Blokker’s resignation, but his track record of winning in both conferences speaks for itself. In the last few days, there has been no shortage speculation that Blokker will be running the Rams bench in 2018. He, along with former VI Raiders President Haddi Abassi built that club into a powerhouse from 2005 through 2013, you have to know Rams President Dana Matheson, himself a successful businessman in Langley would love to duplicate the run of success experienced in Nanaimo. Matheson knows full well what a winning team can mean to the bottom line in junior football where on a good day a team breaks even financially.
If Blokker does indeed land in Langley, things get really interesting next season.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as we see players throughout the NFL, CFL and yes, the BCFC accenting their uniforms with pink in support of the cause. The BCFC assesses each team for every player wearing pink, with the money being donated to the Canadian Cancer Society towards breast cancer research.
My question to the players though is are you really supporting the women in your life or is the pink a fashion statement? Show your moms, sisters, aunts, grandmas, and girlfriends you really care, wear pink for the right reason and use this opportunity to raise a bit of $ for a worthwhile cause. These games provide you a venue to do your part, take advantage of it.
And to the BCFC executive, why does the conference allow the players to wear pink for just a single regular season game? This is breast cancer awareness “month” folks.
Road bet of the week. This segment really has been a bit on the lame side this year, picking the team most likely to win on the road is easy. In hind-site we should have been looking at these games with the imaginary Las Vegas odds to determine which game really is the best “bet”. If that’s the case we can scratch the Rebels in Chilliwack from the list as that one is as easy to call as it gets, not even sure what odds you would get taking the Rebels.
The Broncos host the Rebels in a “trap” game to use that phrase that was the rage last week. Kamloops gave the Sun all it could handle Saturday night before falling 20-10 and the way the Raiders started the first half at home to the Huskers last weekend, thinking that club could be in for a loss on their longest road trip of the has merit.
Still the best odds of the day would be on the Langley Rams travelling to the Apple Bowl to tackle the Sun. After being dominated (don’t let the 33-28 score fool you) by the Rebels you would get great odds that the un-defeated Sun will have their way with Langley at home. Still, the last three weeks, at least offensively have been inconsistent at best for the Sun despite a 2-0-1 mark. The offense did little against Kamloops this weekend and flat-lined in the second half against the Huskers the week before. The Rams always seem to make things difficult for the Sun at the Apple Bowl, I’d take the visitors for an upset in this one.