Westshore Rebels players go through opening warmups at the start of practice on Tuesday night. The Rebels battle the Okanagan Sun in Kelowna on Saturday in the club’s season opener. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

Westshore Rebels set to renew hostilities with the Okanagan Sun

Defending BCFC champions have stiff test as they begin their quest to defend Cullen Cup title

The Westshore Rebels won’t have any time to ease into their quest to defend last year’s Cullen Cup.

The Rebels travel to Kelowna on Saturday for their season opener against the Okanagan Sun in a rematch of last year’s B.C. Football Conference championship game.

“I’m excited. We’ve put in a lot of work and we’ve got a lot of really good athletes here,” said rookie head coach Charlie Cardillichia ahead of Tuesday night’s practice. “We’re really excited to see what this season holds for us.”

The Rebels took two out of three from the Sun last year, including a 32-21 win on home turf in the Cullen Cup, but lost their only game in Kelowna.

“The hardest part is probably the bus trip,” said returning running back Trey Campbell, who is expected to be one of the team’s featured weapons on offense. “We’re going to be up at 6 a.m. and getting the first ferry … it’s a long day.”

Weather forecasters are also calling for a Saturday high of 34 degrees, adding another challenge, although the late 7 p.m. kickoff should help cool things down at the Apple Bowl.

Campbell rushed for 605 yards on 65 attempts last year for a league-high 9.3 yards per carry among players with 50 or more attempts. He added 80 yards on six carries in the Cullen Cup and should expect to see even more of the football this season in the absence of last year’s top rusher Jamel Lyles.

“I’m just expecting to contribute more to the team offensively and play a bigger role this year whether it’s running, catching passes or blocking,” he said.

Cardilicchia expects the Rebels to have an aggressive game plan on Saturday.

“We’re going to come out guns blazing. We’ve got some athletes and we’re going to let them shine,” he said.

Scott Borden, who split time with Ashton Mackinnon last year prior to leaving the club, will get the start under centre.

Cardilicchia doesn’t believe the ex-Saint Mary’s Husky has gotten nearly enough respect around the league. “I feel like he’s kind of getting slighted. [Pundits] are acknowledging that he’s a talent but they’re not saying what he is, and that’s the best quarterback in the BCFC.”

Defensively, co-ordinator Shane Beatty noted that the Rebels’ D is ripe with both speed and veteran savvy.

Returning linemen Kent Hicks and Jeremie Drouin are among those who are expected to win battles in the trenches, pressure the quarterback and free up the rest of the defense to make plays. They’ll be joined by newcomers Ovie Akpeneye and Chris Larsen along what should be a formidable defensive front.

“Our D-line is going to be very, very good. Our secondary’s deep and our linebackers, I’m happy with. They’re physical and can run,” Beatty said.

The Rebels have a road-heavy schedule to open the season. They’ll visit the Vancouver Island Raiders Aug. 5 and the Kamloops Broncos Aug. 12.

They’ll open their home slate on Aug. 19 against the Langley Rams, the first of four consecutive games at Westhills Stadium.

joel.tansey@goldstream

gazette.com

BCFCWestshore Rebels

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police seek suspects in series of bear spray attacks

Police responded to several calls Saturday evening

Thief steals ice cream bars from Oak Bay Dairy Queen

Oak Bay resident out nearly $10,000 as CRA scam strikes again

Lamborghini driver slapped with nearly $1,000 in fines while speeding in Central Saanich

Vehicle impounded by Central Saanich police, 11 points issued

West Shore RCMP arrives just in time thanks to tip

Officers remind of resources after mental health call Monday morning

Man arrested after speeding to Victoria court date for driving offence

West Shore RCMP remind drivers to be mindful of construction zones

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Pedestrian dies in motor vehicle incident along the highway near Nanaimo Airport

Police investigating scene where 37-year-old woman from Nanaimo died

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out of stand on Norcross Road

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Most Read