As the Vancouver Island Raiders' ship pushes ahead, they are being careful not to shift into cruise control.
The Raiders beat Island rival Westshore Rebels 54-14 on Saturday in Victoria, to give them fivestraight B.C. Football Conference victories and set up a battle for first place next weekend in Langley against the Rams.
On Saturday, though, they beat up on the last place Rebels in every which way.
They posted 364 yards passing, 141 yards rushing and even scored on a punt return. Defensively they held Westshore to just 199 net yards, including just 18 on the ground.
"I thought it was another step forward, we didn't take a step back, and that's five weeks in a row now we've been stepping forward," said Raiders head coach Matt "Snoop" Blokker.
Star wide receiver Whitman Tomusiak continued his monster season for the Raiders as they keep finding new ways to use the wide out.
He finished with six receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown, but he added in a 95-yard touchdown off a reverse on a punt return. He is not a regular on special teams, but has the speed to be dangerous. They've also used him in the running game where he had a two-touchdown game against the Okanagan Sun earlier this year.
"We ran him a punt reverse just to get him the ball and we've got to find different ways to make him an important part of our offence," said Blokker. "Teams have to do different things to face him. We've got to keep building on it and keep giving him an opportunity to make plays and keep making them."
Tomusiak's effectiveness has created opportunities for other Raiders weapons like Dylan Schrot who had another big game, leading V.I. with five catches for 137 yards, including a 79-yard score.
Ariel Fabbro had two catches for 37 yards, but both were touchdowns, and running back Andrew Deleon had 52 yards receiving to go with his gamehigh 83 rushing yards for 135 yards of offence.
It was also big day for Raiders quarterbacks.
Jamie Ybarra finished a very efficient 17-for-20 for 341 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Jaeden Marwick came in for the second, going 1-for-4 for 23 yards and a touchdown, while veteran pivot Jahmari Bennett made his first appearance at the under centre since an early season thumb injury and scored twice on the ground.
"I thought all three played really well, I thought all three practiced well and as quarterbacks, I thought they had their best week of the year," said Blokker.
Up next is one final showdown with the Rams on Saturday in Langley. The teams have split the season series to this point, each collecting one win. If the Raiders win, they will all but seal first place in the BCFC, but if they lose, they will drop to third, behind both Langley and the Okanagan. The Raiders will wrap up their regular season on Oct. 5 with a game against the Rebels at Caledonia Park.
"We're fighting for a home playoff game, or we have to go on the road," said Blokker. "I expect both teams to be a little more desperate and the temp to be high."
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