A plan to fill the roster with locally trained players may not materialize the way the Westshore Rebels expected for 2014.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, says co-head coach Andrew Axhorn, whose B.C. Football Conference team holds training camp tomorrow and Sunday at Westhills Stadium.
“We have about 10 guys coming from Vancouver to camp, some guys from Saskatchewan and more from up Island,” he said. “There’s certainly more guys coming than I anticipated. We should have a really decent camp.”
More bodies in camp will give Axhorn and fellow head coach Tom Fong more options when it comes to preparing their lineup for the July 26 season opener in Kamloops.
Of the nearly 40 players already signed, about half are newcomers to the junior squad. The hope, Axhorn said, is to have at least 50 players in camp.
While some might view the relative lack of experience as a disadvantage, Axhorn likes what he sees so far, especially in the offensive backfield.
“I’ve got five running backs that could start on any team in the league,” he says enthusiastically.
The Rebels will have newcomers at quarterback this year, but rookie and former Victoria Spartans midget star Brett Johnston appears to have the inside track for the starter’s job.
Whoever lines up under centre for the Rebels will have a young receiving corps led by second-year man Jordan Robinsky, 19, last year’s rookie of the year for the team. Robinsky and Johnston played together two seasons ago with the Spartans and tore up the league. Another top receiver from last year’s Spartan midgets is due in camp this year, so Johnston would have some familiarity, Axhorn said.
Nonetheless, he said, “We may become a ground and pound team this year.”
The team also has a number of talented defensive backs in camp, Axhorn said, and a veteran defence led by fourth-year linebacker Chris Pastro.
“I’m super excited. This is going to be a really good building year for us. The sky’s the limit.”
The camp sessions are open to the public and run from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday (July 5). Sunday sees a player warmup from 11 a.m. to noon, when they’ll scrimmage until 2 p.m.
The Rebels’ first home game is Saturday, Aug. 2 (7 p.m. kickoff) at Westhills against arch-rival Vancouver Island Raiders. The game features a military appreciation night. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.westshorerebels.ca or at the gate.
Billets still needed for Rebels players
Heading into training camp this weekend and just three weeks away from the B.C. Football Conference season opener, the Westshore Rebels still need billet homes for some out-of-town players.
While the majority of players come from the Capital Region, some players will be making the trek from up Island and the Lower Mainland to play junior football this summer and fall.
Billet hosts are responsible for food and lodging, for which they will be paid $500 per month. Billeting gives out of town players a chance to live and work in and explore Greater Victoria while continuing to play football after high school.
Interested parties can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.