Getting out to a good start for the first time this season made all the difference for the Westshore Rebels.
The Rebels posted their first win of the young B.C. Football Conference season, beating the Valley Huskers 28-14 at Exhibition Stadium in Chilliwack on Saturday to improve to 1-2 on the year.
After shutting down the home squad on three straight series to open the game, the Rebels caught a break when middle linebacker Jake Pastro blocked a Huskers field goal attempt later in the first quarter. Alert defensive back Jake Hauge snapped up the loose ball and ran it back for a touchdown.
The huge turnover and being able to dictate the play defensively gave the team a momentum boost, said Rebels head coach Andrew Axhorn, who was on the sidelines for the first time this season.
“That was majorly important, it was all about that … minimizing mistakes and playing the way we wanted,” he said. “The last two games we got killed the first quarter.”
Westshore quarterback Hunter Lake recorded his first three touchdown passes of the season, two of which went to Griffin Dear in the fourth quarter, for 14 and 15 yards as the Rebels took a 28-7 lead.
The first TD pass came after the Huskers tied it up in the second quarter. Lake hit Jordan Rodinsky for a 15-yard score and the Rebels went into the dressing room with a 14-7 lead.
The Rebels suffered a serious loss in the second quarter, when Pastro went down with what was believed to be a rib injury. He was taken to hospital for treatment and will not play this Saturday at home against the Langley Rams.
The team will miss Pastro’s leadership and work ethic on the field, Axhorn said, adding he has no worries about the team’s linebacker corps.
Tyler Leader, who was all over the field making plays against the Huskers, will move from the outside position to the middle, while rookie Calvin Johnson will likely move up from defensive back to join starting linebackers Brandon Nelms and Rob Mar.
This Saturday’s home game against 2013 league playoff runner-up Langley Rams presents the Rebels “hardest game of the season” so far, Axhorn said.
“A lot of things are going to have to come together for us” to have a chance of beating the perennial BCFC powerhouse, he admitted.
“We’re going to have to reload this week, go over some film and see what we can can do to limit their attack,” he said. “If we can hang with them for that first quarter, anything can happen.”
While Pastro’s onfield leadership will be absent this week, the coach added, third-year veteran Lake appears ready to step up, “put it on his shoulders” and lead the team by example.
Saturday’s game goes at 4 p.m. at Westhills Stadium.