The next two weeks will tell about the Vancouver Island Raiders.
The Raiders (3-2-0) are coming off a bye week, sitting in third place, and host the top two teams in the B.C. Football Conference the next two Saturdays.
This week the Okanagan Sun (4-1-0) come to town, whose only blemish on their record is a forfeiture to the Chiliwack Huskers in Week 1 due to an ineligible player - a game they originally won 65-10. Two weeks ago, they knocked off previously undefeated Langley Rams (4-1-0) 29-28, the team V.I. hosts next week.
The Raiders have already lost to the Sun once this year, 17-3, in the second week of the season at the Sun Bowl in Kelowna. A lot has changed since then, but the defeat still stings for V.I. head coach Matt "Snoop" Blokker.
"We just didn't play very good," he said. "We didn't give them anywhere near our best game. It's important for us to do a better job. We want to give them our best and see where we stand up against a good Sun team."
The Raiders and Suns rivalry has been one of the most heated in the BCFC since the Raiders moved to Nanaimo in 2005. Before V.I. went on their run of sixstraight titles, the Okanagan was the dominant team in the league.
But it has been a one-sided rivalry. The Sun are just 1-8 in Nanaimo in their history, including three heart-breaking losses here last year. But a win would give the Sun their best start since 2004. There is a lot riding on this game for them.
"It is really important for the organization and the kids. But at the same time, it's not the end of the season if we do go down to defeat, we still have four games after that," said Sun head coach Shane Beatty, who is in his first year with the club after a disastrous 3-7-0 campaign in 2012. "It's a tough game in a hostile environment, and to me they're playing some of the best offensive football in the whole league."
Both coaches are prepared for a much more difficult game on Saturday than what was on display in Kelowna. Both teams are still very young, while the Sun are one year further a long in their rebuild than the Raiders, but that also means both have improved a lot since Week 2.
"We're a really young team, we only have six 22 year olds. .. but the kids have been really consistent and they've picked up the system really well," said Beatty.
"We've been working really hard and we're not throwing too much at them, we're keeping it really simple. It will be Game 8, 9, or 10 before we really get going."
For the Raiders, this year has been all about moving on from some of the best players to ever walk out on to Caledonia Park. It has taken some time for those players, like rookie quarterbacks Jaeden Marwick and Jamie Ybarra, to find their game. But they have shown a lot of improvement in the past month. It is a process that needs to continue.
"We're waiting for someone to reach out and grab it, but we'll see what happens over the next two games," said Blokker.
Kickoff on Saturday is 2 p.m.
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