Photo courtesy of AllSportMedia.ca
#2 Okanagan Sun @ #1 Westshore Rebels – Saturday October 28, 3:00pm – Starlight Stadium | WATCH HERE
For the second straight season the Rebels and Sun will meet in the Cullen Cup title game, but this year the teams will play in Westshore and the winner will host the 2023 Canadian Bowl.
This is the first time since 2016 that the Rebels host the Cullen Cup and oddly enough it was against the Sun. They won that game 32-21 and went on to host the Canadian Bowl against the Saskatoon Hilltops.
The Rebels and Sun only met once during the regular season. The game was played in Westshore on August 26th with the Rebels dominating 52-23. Quarterback Te Jessie completed 22 of 27 for 303 yards and threw five touchdowns passes. He also ran for a major on five carries.
Since that game neither team has lost with both cruising to a lopsided victory in last week’s semi-final to qualify for the Cullen Cup.
For the Rebels they don’t need to change much at this standpoint. They have shown their offence can move the football through the air or on the ground with All-Star running back Gerren Hardisty. Jessie has plenty of dangerous weapons to spread the ball to and isn’t shy to throw the ball deep to anyone of them. On the other side, their defence has been outstanding swarming to the ball. They are fast and physical and when teams try and pass the ball, their secondary is filled with ballhawks highlighted by All-Star Gio Linuzzi. Their biggest defensive weapon is Defensive Player of the Year Demar Hohnstein who seemingly knows where the ball is going before the offence does. In last week’s semi-final win he collected two sacks and six solo tackles.
The visiting Sun will no doubt have their hands full but are by no means a team that isn’t confident. They have the weapons that have the ability to create an upset. Their defensive secondary will need to play their best game of the year against the Rebels highflying offence. All-Star Michael Jourdan leads a very good secondary unit that can track the ball and close gaps very quickly. The linebackers and defensive line will need to find a way to disrupt the timing of Jessie and his receivers by getting pressure in their backfield. Romario Reid leads this unit and will need to play a major factor.
The Sun ground attack on the offensive side will need to establish themselves early with the two-headed monster of Elelyon Noa and Aidan Wiberg who combined for three touchdowns last week in their semi-final win.
This game has all the making of a classic with so much on the line. The Rebels last hosted the Canadian Bowl in 2016, while the Sun have not welcomed the National Final to the Apple Bowl since 2000.
Head-to-Head (regular season stats)
Records: Sun 8-1 – Rebels 10-0
Avg Points For: Sun 53.4 – Rebels 58.3
Avg Points Allowed: Sun 14.4 – Rebels 11.2
Passing Leaders: Hunter Norman – 52 of 64 for 879 yards and 11 touchdowns (Sun) – Te Jessie – 150 of 212 for 2453 yards and 41 touchdowns (Rebels)
Rushing Leaders: Aidan Wiberg – 114 carries for 836 yards and 10 touchdowns (Sun) – Gerren Hardisty – 108 carries for 1084 yards and 13 touchdowns (Rebels)
Receiving Leaders: Sam Melanson – 31 receptions for 426 yards and 3 touchdowns (Sun) – Kieran Poissant – 54 receptions for 849 yards and 13 touchdowns (Rebels)
Leading Tacklers: Michael Jourdan – 21 tackles (Sun) – Demar Hohnstein – 56 tackles (Rebels)