EDITORIAL: Players can all be our local boys

Football, hockey athletes ingratiating themselves to area residents

Two West Shore sports teams are doing their best these days to help build community pride.

On Saturday, two memorable games finished almost simultaneously. The results prompted fans to break out in cheers in a big way and hopefully start planning for the next game.

Over at Westhills Stadium in Langford, the Westshore Rebels, who won six football games total the past three seasons, won their sixth of 2016, beating the vaunted Okanagan Sun with a last-minute touchdown preceded by some outstanding defensive play. The defending league champion Sun hadn’t lost a regular season game in 24 outings and the loss may prove their undoing in the race for first.

The Rebels are turning heads these days for their exciting play and very real chance to win a B.C. championship. Not only did they knock off the champs, they beat their arch rivals from Nanaimo, the Vancouver Island Raiders, for the first time in franchise history. That August victory was sweet for folks like Joe Frenette, who played a key role in resurrecting the Rebels in Victoria when the assets of the club – and many of its players – were abruptly transferred up Island for the 2004 season.

Meanwhile at The Q Centre, the Victoria Grizzlies handed the scrappy Alberni Valley Bulldogs a 5-4 double overtime loss in B.C. Hockey League play. It pushed the Grizzlies’ record to 2-0 to start the 2016-17 season and followed an unbeaten exhibition season.

While it’s extremely early, the team’s performance is a far cry from the struggle that was last September. In fact, the Colwood-based Grizzlies didn’t record their second win last year until game 12.

Head coaches Craig Didmon of the Grizzlies and the Rebels’ J.C. Boice voiced optimism before their respective seasons began. We like that their hopes were founded on a belief in their players and coaches.

Sports fans from the West Shore and beyond have an opportunity to share in that optimism by showing up and supporting these young men as they strive to improve their teams’ lot. It’s yet another way for local residents to immerse themselves in community and be a part of what looks to be something special.

 

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