There’s been a few bumps along the way, but the Westshore Rebels are moving forward with some key pieces in place for their football puzzle.
The B.C. Football Conference junior squad staged what was, by most accounts, a successful training camp last weekend at Westhills Stadium.
“You can tell there’s a lot of excitement on this team,” said head coach Andrew Axhorn, who lost co-coach Tom Fong due to personal reasons last week, but gained a new assistant head coach in former Rebel Sheldon Sulliman. “There’s a lot of players looking forward to this season.”
Some elements of the weekend workouts left Axhorn smiling, including the way the offence stepped up their game for the Sunday scrimmage.
Part of that had to do with the appearance at camp of Hunter Lake, who will help settle the team’s quarterback situation.
The 20-year-old Richmond native put finding a job or going to school on hold to come back for a third year with the Rebels, and sounded awfully glad he did.
“Camp was awesome,” he said. “Everyone’s going gung-ho. You could hear the hits around town, it was lots of fun.”
Lake, the leading passer for yardage in the BCFC last season with 2,051, was also the team’s leading rusher last year with 329 yards. While he would love to pilot a run-and-gun style offence, he expects the ground game to be a big part of the Rebels’ attack.
“No matter what the play is, we’ll be doing a lot of running, I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I trust my feet more than I do my arm.”
Sulliman has some football “cred” with the players, having played for the team and won a BCFC title in 2003 playing alongside new Rebels defensive co-ordinator Ryan Henderson.
“Guys already came up to me to say, ‘it’s nice to have someone who played for the team coaching,’” Sulliman said. “They believe in you that you respect the tradition of the Rebels and that you understand where the team has come from and where we all want to see the team (go).”
The team’s goals for the season are simple, he said.
“We’re not going say we’re going to be the champion, our goal is to have a successful season and build on that. Our plan is to build this program for the future. Our team’s a very young team, which gives us an advantage, cause these guys will be our core guys and that’s the way you really become a championship team.”
The Rebels open the season on the road in Kamloops on July 26 then return to Langford for their home opener against the arch-rival Vancouver Island Raiders, on Aug. 2 at Westhills Stadium.
There will no doubt be home field pride on the line in that game, since the Raiders hammered the Rebels 71-0 in the final game of last season.