Hunter Lake is having fun. For a second straight game with the Westshore Rebels, he’s expecting to line up at slotback, the Canadian football version of tight end. His size, speed, agility and durability seem to make him a perfect fit for the position.
Over three-plus seasons playing quarterback in the B.C. Football Conference, he’s gained a reputation for being able to see the field well and make the most of broken plays. Now he’s catching balls instead of throwing then, for the most part.
“Everything kind of got flipped on its head,” he said this week, following the Rebels’ narrow 23-21 loss at home to the Vancouver Island Raiders. “It was really fun. Practice was awesome, getting to do something else.”
Lake was more than effective, catching two touchdown passes from starter Ashton MacKinnon and racking up a team-leading 136 yards in receiving. The tandem gave the Rebels a whole new dimension to their offence.
“His moving from QB to slot definitely helps with the chemistry,” Mackinnon said of Lake. “Because he was in my position, he knows what I’m thinking and he’ll be where he needs to be.”
That intuition may well come in handy for tomorrow’s game (Aug. 8) in Kamloops, a contest that could be an air show. Westshore faces a Broncos team that has the most prolific passing game in the BCFC, albeit after just two games.
Kamloops is coming off a 25-17 loss to the Langley Rams, after opening the season with a 72-17 blowout of the Valley Huskers. Kamloops fields the top passing offence in the league, with Derek Yachison (275 yards) and Devin Csincsa (208 yds.) the top targets for Stephan Schuweiler, who has thrown for 680 yards and eight TDs in just two games.
Last weekend’s game was the closest result the Rebels have had against the Raiders in some time, with a Westshore comeback falling just short.
With MacKinnon taking the reins after a three-way split of the QB duties, he threw 21 completions on 43 attempts, including three TD passes. The other was to Eric Williams, who gained 114 yards total with six catches.
While the Rebels outgunned the Raiders in the air by a huge margin – the Nanaimo squad’s Brody Taylor and Dustin Rodriguez combined for just 110 yards total – on the ground it was the visitors who held a major edge. Nathan Berg was a one-man wrecking ball, carrying 34 times for 198 yards and going over for two touchdowns.
The Raiders opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and led 23-12 at halftime. The Rebels added a safety in the third quarter and pulled to within two points in the fourth, when MacKinnon found Eric Williams with a short pass just over the line of scrimmage, and Williams sprinted past Raiders defenders for a 39-yard TD that made it 23-21.