The Rebels found out who they were as a team over the weekend with a gritty 19-16 win over the Langley Rams.
Now they have their sights set on this weekend’s home opener in Langford.
Head coach Charly Cardilicchia said the team finds out what they’re capable of when they are being tested. The Rebels did not play any exhibition games before the season, but they talked in practice about how to handle the emotional ups and downs of games.
Cardilicchia said Langley has a history of being a big, strong team, and with the Rams’ head coach Matt Blokker hard at work recruiting in the off-season, Cardilicchia was pleased the Rebels sized up against them.
“Overall I think there’s a lot of room for improvement which is exciting,” Cardilicchia said. “There’s tons of potential and great work ethic.”
In the first half the Rebels took a number of penalties, including defensive back Tyree Dunn being ejected from the game, and emotions were high on field and the sidelines.
“The first half, things got pretty crazy,” Cardilicchia said.
Rebels’ kicker Kyle Clarke got the team on the board with a three-point field goal, putting the Rebels up 3-0 in the first quarter. The Rams answered back with two field goals of their own to hold a 6-3 advantage with six minutes remaining in the second.
Tailback Khaliel James ran the ball for the Rebel’s first touchdown of the season, later adding the conversion, to put the Rebels up 10-6.
But the Rams answered back with a field goal and touchdown of their own before halftime, putting them ahead 15-10.
Even though the Rebels were down heading into the fourth, Cardilicchia said the team was collected and played well under pressure. “Before the second half we did a re-calibration of emotions and we were calm for the most part,” Cardilicchia added. “There was no sense of worry on the sideline, which is a byproduct of trusting the process.”
The Rebels scored nine unanswered points in the fourth quarter, spurred by a touchdown by wide receiver Nathan Falito.
Cardilicchia noted safety Byron MacKinnon had a great game on defence and was “flying around the field,” and that quarterback Mason Brown was outstanding. Cardilicchia added Brown plays like Baker Mayfield, the Oklahoma standout and first pick in the 2018 NFL draft for the Cleveland Browns, and he’s had feedback from other people that think the same.
“I thought ‘We got our man, we got a good one,'” Cardilicchia said.
Cardilicchia said facing adversity with a come-from-behind win will help the Rebels in their home opener against the Okanagan Sun this Saturday.
The two teams face off at 4 p.m. at Westhills Stadium.