It was a blustery day at Westhills Stadium, but the Westshore Rebels didn’t seem to mind.
“We run the ball so it didn’t really matter,” said head coach JC Boice following his team’s 45-28 win over the Valley Huskers on Friday night.
And run they did.
Jamel Lyles led the way for the Rebels with three TDs, two on the ground and one via a late first half punt return, and well over 200 yards rushing.
As usual Lyles was the beneficiary of some tremendous blocking up front, a fact that wasn’t lost on the standout back, as he was quick to credit his line for his continued success.
On one of his many highlight reel runs, Lyles took a handoff and cut to the right side of the field before finding the left side of the field more to his liking. Lyles beat the bulk of the Huskers defense to the opposite side of the field and waltzed into the end zone for a 40-yard score.
The Rebels MVP could have had an even bigger game if not for some unfortunate penalties and appeared to show some frustration towards the end of the contest after having another touchdown come back.
“It’s almost good frustration because I know what our team is capable of and I set the standards high for everybody, not just myself. I do take it out sometimes in the wrong way but they know that it’s not like that and they have high expectations for themselves too,” Lyles said.
Quarterback Ashton Mackinnon and receiver Nathaniel Pinto had scores of their own in what was another dominant offensive showing for the Rebels, despite the penalty trouble.
While the ground game continued to roll, Boice did express some frustration with his team’s aerial attack.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do with our quarterbacks. Our receivers are winning routes and we’ve just gotta come out and do a better job of throwing the ball,” he said.
The Huskers stayed with Westshore in the opening half, with signal caller Noah Falconer making use of a tailwind to find several receivers on deep passes, but Westshore was able to halt the Valley offence after the first quarter. The Huskers managed 14 points in the game’s opening 15 minutes but would score just 14 more the rest of the way, including a late TD with the game already out of reach.
It was a potential trap game for the favoured Rebels, who had to avoid looking ahead to their upcoming matchup with the league-leading Okanagan Sun, but Boice had a different take.
“Every game for us is a trap game. We’re young and we’re learning how to win. We’re re-establishing a culture of excellence…Every week is a fight…It felt like our kids responded,” Boice said.
The Rebels will be off on Labour Day weekend and then they’ll take the field in the all-important rematch with the Sun. In their previous matchup in Kelowna, the Rebels let the game slip away in a narrow 27-21 loss. The rematch will take place on Sept. 10 at Westhills Stadium.