The V.I. Raiders played hard for four quarters but couldn’t find an edge against their Island rivals, the Westshore Rebels.
Victoria defeated Nanaimo 17-7 in B.C. Football Conference playoff action Saturday at Westhills stadium in Langford. The Raiders’ season is over, while the Rebels advance to the conference finals.
“My boys played their heart out,” said Curtis Vizza, Raiders coach. “They went start to finish, complete effort, didn’t implode, they just fought for each other and fought for the chance to play football next week.”
Both defences played tough, as the Raiders punted nine times and the Rebels punted 10 times. The Rebels did not score a touchdown in the game, but were 5-for-5 on field goals.
“Victoria played one hell of a game, a lot of good bounces went their way and they capitalized when mistakes were made,” Vizza said, adding that the Rebels’ defence used a lot of intricate blitzes and stunts and get the Raiders moving the wrong way, and tackled soundly.
Penalties backed the Raiders up at key points in the game, and a Rebels’ blocked punt also reversed the field late in the third quarter.
“Field position was the biggest battle for us and they won that today,” Vizza said.
Jake Laberge, returning from injury, was 13-for-31 passing for 177 yards with two interceptions. Andre Goulbourne rushed 21 times for 98 yards and had the game’s only TD on a seven-yard score. North Rainey made seven catches for 109 yards.
Defensively, Zach Taylor led the Raiders with seven tackles and Parker Smith had five. Nils Haeni had a sack and Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty had an interception.
For the Rebels, Will Hughes was perfect on field goals, with his longest coming from 39 yards out. Quarterback Shawn Lal was 11-for-23 for 191 yards and one INT. Nathan Falito had three catches for 108 yards.
Defensively for Westshore, Austin Morgan had four tackles and a sack, Maleek Womack and Ronan MacSilver had interceptions and Nolan Thorburn and Demarius Henderson had fumble recoveries.
More than a dozen Raiders saw their junior football career come to an end with the loss.
“They bled it out. They are what a Raider is,” Vizza said. “They work hard, they pay the price, they sacrifice, they did everything you could ever ask of them.”
For the other Raiders, they will be back and other big games will be waiting for them.
“With a very young contingency here and from what I see from all of them in practice and the time they spend, I think it’s going to be a very hungry team coming next year,” Vizza said. “A lot of these guys are 18 and 19 years old and they’re coming back bigger, faster, stronger.”