Simply put, Shane Beatty’s primary goal this season was to assemble a championship calibre football team.
Nearly half way into the 2015 B.C. Football Conference campaign, the evidence would strongly suggest the Okanagan Sun head coach is realizing that ambition.
The Sun has been a convincing winner in each of its four starts this summer, outscoring the opposition 201-23 in the process.
In the club’s biggest test yet—and despite a slow start—the Sun bettered the defending champion Langley Rams 32-13 on Saturday night at the Apple Bowl.
The home side not only gained revenge for last fall’s loss to the Rams in the BCFC final, but further cemented their coach’s belief that Sun would be a force to be reckoned with in 2015.
“It’s been very promising on both sides of the ball, the guys are playing well and they’re proving to be very resilient,” Beatty said. “We were down (to Langley) 6-3 at the half, but the guys didn’t panic, we made adjustments and played a great second half.
“Our kids really got after it in the second half, I’m proud of them and proud of the coaches.”
Under the direction of quarterback Josiah Joseph, the Sun took over the game in the third quarter erupting for 21 points.
Dillon Fortune scored two of his three majors in the quarter, while Joseph connected with Lerone Robinson and on 18-yard pass for a TD to give the Sun full control of the proceedings on Saturday.
“Josiah (Joseph) really performed well, he gave us a boost and gave some real nice flow to the offense in the second half,” Beatty said. “We didn’t play extremely well on either side of the ball in the first half, but we were really good on both sides in the second.”
Beatty said if not for five turnovers by the Sun, including four fumbles, the result could have been even more lopsided.
The Sun again lived up to its reputation in boasting the nation’s No. 1 defence, allowing the Rams just 149 yards in net offence and only one major score.
Defensive back Beck Fullerton said aside from some minor mistakes, it was another largely stalwart outing by the Okanagan D.
“We liked our effort a lot, it was a bend but don’t break kind of game for us again,” said Fullerton, who had one of three interceptions by the Sun. “We did give up one touchdown, that came on a small mental error, but those are things we can fix.”
While pretty much all is going to plan for the Sun in 2015, injuries have been creating a few challenges. Cornerback Wes Geisler is on the shelf for five weeks with a shoulder injury, while the offensive line continues to nurse more than its share of bumps and bruises.
Still, Beatty said the club’s depth has been vital in compensating for the adversity.
“We’ve been short on the O-line, we lost Wes Fuhrman, but we’ve had some young guys step up and we’re really proud of them.
“We’re lacking experience at the corner so we’ve moved (veteran) Matt McConnell over there and he did a great job for us. Our depth has really helped us with injuries this season.”
As for the club’s 4-0 start, Fullerton said the Sun is happy so far but knows there’s still plenty of football to play—including two games each against Langley and Vancouver Island, and one against Kamloops.
“We still have a ways to go, we’ve still got some tough games to play and we’ve got some guys injured, but we like where we’re at,” added Fullerton. “Every week, we don’t look past the next game, our goal is to go 1-0 each week and we’re sticking to that.”
In a perfect world, Beatty said he would like to see his club go 10-0 during the BCFC regular season. Still, in the big picture, Beatty emphasized there is one much larger, more important goal.
“It would be nice to go unbeaten but what we really want is a national championship,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter how we get there, we may not win every game…we just want to win the right ones.”
The Sun is back home this Saturday night when they take on the winless Valley Huskers (0-4).
Kick off at the Apple Bowl is 7 p.m.