V.I. Raiders survive camp challenge

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League club held its main camp at Port Alberni from Thursday to Monday.

V.I. Raiders receiver Whitman Tomusiak makes a catch during a drill Sunday at the team’s main camp at Port Alberni’s Bob Dailey Stadium.

To view a slideshow of photographs from the V.I. Raiders’ main camp, please click here.

The V.I. Raiders spent the last five days intensively building a team.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League club held its main camp at Port Alberni from Thursday to Monday, putting players through a two-a-day practice schedule.

“One day at a time, we just kept on getting better and better and better,” said Glenn Boyce, Raiders linebacker. “There’s bumps and bruises along the way but we’re coming together as a family now so I’m excited to see what this group is going to be able to do on the field.”

Coach Matthew (Snoop) Blokker said he was “extremely inspired” by his players.

“We didn’t waste any time up here,” he said. “We were pretty sharp and our intensity level was high every practice and we really focused on what our task is, and that’s getting ready for Game 1.”

Unable to schedule an exhibition game this month, the Raiders had to improvise a pre-season, and held a series of practices over the last two weeks leading up to main camp.

“We were able to really identify our players before we got here and that gives you a better chance to put them all in a good position to succeed,” Blokker said.

By camp’s end, he and the other coaches had identified starters on offence, defence and special teams.

Running back Ashton Galloway was one player who excelled, handling a heavy workload, said the coach. Also on offence, receiver Dustin Pedersen brought a high tempo every practice, depth receiver Owen Reddick showed great improvement and rookie fullback Dustin Ellis-Kyle did a lot of different things well. Veteran offensive lineman Tyler Oldendorf was dominant and rookie O lineman Jordan Kuziek continued his learning curve.

On defence the linebacking corps was excellent, as Jon Jones was a standout, Boyce was a leader and converted fullback Anthony Bienvenue impressed all the coaches. In the defensive backfield, Tremaine Apperley was at the top of his game.

GAME ON … The V.I. Raiders kick off the 2012 CJFL season on the road Saturday (Aug. 4) with a 7 p.m. game against the Westshore Rebels. The team’s first home game will be Aug. 11, when it hosts the Langley Rams in a 5 p.m. start at Caledonia Park … To read last week’s article on the team, please click here.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com