With exception of one game which was overturned due to an ineligible player in 2013, the Valley Huskers had never beaten the Okanagan Sun in B.C. Football Conference play.
On Saturday night in Chilliwack—much to the chagrin of the Sun and its fans—the Huskers made history in the 36th meeting between the clubs.
Traditionally a last-place team, the Chilliwack-based squad turned the tables on Ben Macauley’s squad with 22-18 victory at Exhibition Stadium.
The Sun (1-1-1) offense sputtered from start to finish and squandered a handful of opportunities to lose for the first time in 2018.
“In two phases (defense and special teams) we played well enough to win,” said Macauley, who in his third season at the helm of the BCFC team. “On the offensive side, just like it was last week, we didn’t do a good enough job of preparing, we made far too many errors, and that was evident in our lack of production. Our job is to take steps in fixing that, get the right changes in place and be ready for the (Langley) Rams.”
Still, despite his own club’s inability to execute the game plan, Macauley gave full marks to the Sun’s opposition.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Chilliwack, they’ve done a great job with their program,” said Macauley. “I think the first time teams play them, they’ll be surprised by the level of talent and effort those guys play with. We need to give credit where credit is due. They executed a great game plan.”
The Sun’s undoing was missed opportunities—no fewer than 10 by Macauley’s estimation—including a handful of dropped passes and a fumble deep in Huskers’ territory that looked like a sure touchdown.
“Part of our game plan is making sure we’re in a position to be successful and we failed to do that,” Macauley said. “(On offense) there was some watching and waiting for other guys to make plays. We have the talent but there were so many missed opportunities, even executing one of those would have changed the outcome. This isn’t all on the players, we as a coaching staff have to prepare them better.”
The Sun scored its lone offensive touchdown on a run by Jesse Amankwaa in the second quarter. The only other score came on special teams when Cody Thompson blocked a kick and Javen Kaechele picked it up and scampered 25 yards for the touchdown.
Blocked punt!! 22-15 Huskers pic.twitter.com/lOuqkd5zrL
— Okanagan Sun (@okanagan_sun) August 19, 2018
“We have the bodies to do it, we’re just making too many mistakes, one or two errors on every play,” Macauley said. “We have to tighten up the assignments, give guys a chance to make plays by calling the right plays. It’s a matter of making sure we’re all on the same page and executing.”
The Sun was without No. 1 quarterback Jakob Loucks who has been dealing with concussion symptoms since taking a late hit against the Westshore Rebels Aug. 11 in Victoria. While unsure of his return to the lineup, Macauley said simply having Loucks back doesn’t necessarily equate into a magic fix.
“If he’s not ready we won’t rush him,” Macauley said of Loucks’ status. “Getting a win isn’t more important than a player’s health. And just having Jakob back isn’t going to easily rectify the situation, it won’t automatically hide our issues. We have to be able to put (backup) Matthew (Mahler) in a position where he can be successful.”
Jordan Rae had a strong game on defense for the Sun, making 11 tackles and grabbing an interception.
The Sun will play its last of four consecutive road this Saturday at McLeod Stadium against the Rams.
Okanagan will play its home opener against the Rams two weeks later on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Apple Bowl.
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