Having reached the halfway point of the B.C. Football Conference season, the Westshore Rebels have a chance to take over sole possession of second place this Saturday (Aug. 27).
Hosting the winless Valley Huskers in the second half of a home and home series at 4 p.m. at Westhills Stadium, the Rebels are favoured to duplicate their results from last weekend’s 47-23 victory in Chilliwack.
The same day in Langley, the Rams (4-1) host league-leading Okanagan (5-0) in a game that could be a preview of a BCFC playoff game.
The Rebels are on a roll, having scored more than 40 points every game so far except their loss to the Sun (27-21). They get another opportunity to beat the Sun on Sept. 10 after the Labour Day weekend break.
Westshore head coach J.C. Boice’s prediction that his team would turn heads this season is so far coming true. The 2016 Rebels are making three consecutive 2-8 seasons seem like another era, or another club, and getting standout performances from different players every week.
Three-time BCFC player of the week award winner, running back Jamel Lyles (featured in a Aug. 24 story), isn’t the only Rebel making a splash. Last week’s game saw running mate Trey Campbell pile up 173 yards rushing and score twice, giving the Westshore offence another weapon to counter Lyles, who still ran for 97 yards and a touchdown.
The sharing of quarterbacking duties between second-year man Ashton Mackinnon and rookie Scott Borden this year appears to be working well. Borden has a 57.9 per cent completion rate and a quarterback rating of 109.6 (second in the BCFC); Mackinnon sports a middling 50.9 completion rate but with just one interception, his QB rating is 95.4 (third). The latter, a strapping six-seven, 225 pounds, has also taken up punting of late and is averaging a league-best 41.4 yards per boot, only a few off the distance currently being achieved by middle-of-the-pack CFL punters.
Among receivers, Kain Melchior continues to impress, having hauled in 13 balls for 294 yards and four TDs, while Nathaniel Skeete has 10 catches for 180 yards and two TDs. Mackinnon and Borden have spread the ball around well otherwise, involving 11 other players in the passing game.
On the other side of the ball, fourth-year defensive back Brody Uddenberg leads the way with 23 solo or assisted tackles, followed by linebackers Adam Masur with 22, Kevin Gabriel with 20 and d-lineman Matt Pastro with 12. First-year lineman Kent Hicks leads the way with three sacks and rookie defensive back Julio Makambo has a team-best two picks.
Down the stretch the Rebels will need to continue to show depth on both offence and defence, with two of their remaining five games coming against teams that have so far shown to be in the upper echelon of the BCFC.