The last game the VI Raiders played in was on October 26, 2019 in a BC Conference semi-final. Plenty has changed since then and the Raiders are itching to get back onto the field here in 2021.
They have a lot to prove this season after three consecutive third place finishes in the last three seasons. They have not hosted a playoff game since 2015 and would like nothing more than to host the Cullen Cup championship game on a brand new field in Nanaimo.
Little did they know that their 13-6 victory over the Valley Huskers on October 19, 2019 would be in reality their final game at Caledonia Park. After several victories including two Canadian Bowl titles on the natural grass surface of Caledonia Park, the Raiders are moving. During this extended off-season the ball club struck an agreement to host all their home games and all their practices on the new field turf at NDSS Stadium just below the campus of Vancouver Island University.
The Raiders have been busy as of late, launching a brand new website and have a new major partnership with PRIME Performance. Along with the partnership comes a new strength and conditioning coach in Clay Smith. The club has brought back alum Trevor Pelland as the new marketing/social media director after playing with the Raiders from 2014-2017.
Entering Final Season:
QB Jake Laberge – He’s been the heart of the Raiders offence for the past four seasons since becoming a starter in 2016, his rookie campaign. In his four previous seasons with the Raiders Laberge has combined for 432 completions and 6860 yards with 54 touchdown passes and a 52.4% completion percentage.
DL Doyle Westlund – He will look to build upon three strong CJFL campaigns where he has tallied seven sacks, 18 tackles and nine assisted stops.
DB Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty – Like Laberge, he’ll enter his fifth and final season and the Raiders are hoping this will be his best. In his fourth seasons he has tallied 15 interceptions, 79 tackles and is often called upon to shut down the opposition’s best receiver.
RB Jason Henderson – In 2019 Henderson carried the ball 38 times for 220 yards and had a major. He’ll look to be the featured back in 2021 and follow in the footsteps of some very strong Raiders running backs including Andre Goulbourne, Rhett Williams and of course arguably the best CJFL back in history, Andrew Harris.
LB AJ Maher – A former Kamloops Bronco, Maher comes to the Raiders after seven solo tackles in 2019. The coaching staff are counting on him to anchor their defensive scheme this upcoming season.
DL Nick Robinson – He will be asked to fill some big shoes and have an immediate impact on the defensive line. In 2019 he collected six tackles, had three sacks and forced a fumble.
Like all CJFL teams the Raiders are hopeful for a 2021 season and to get back to a sense of normality with either a full or modified schedule. The Raiders and the rest of the BC Conference are busy putting together a few different options and await the remaining restrictions to be lifted.
The CJFL have announced a new partnership with software company HeadCheck Health, Inc. ('HeadCheck') that will equip all 18 teams with the HeadCheck Pro app and web system for optimizing concussion management.
Ryan Watters talks with HeadCheck Health CEO Harrison Brown about the partnership and what the program will do to help players and medical staff.
For some Tuesday June 1st is the biggest day of their young lives, as the CJFL presents its National Signing Day.
The day is earmarked every year on June 1st, the day in which players can finally sign with a CJFL club. When a player signs he is essentially signing for his entire junior football career as the player then becomes the property of that team.
So many considerations are made before signing with a CJFL club; location, team support, roster depth, coaching staff, scholarship program, etc all weighs in on a player’s decision.
National Signing Day is not only exciting for the players, but the coaches as well. Their ideas, hopes and hard work will finally come to fruition as they start to fill their roster spots.
Following National Signing Day coaches can continue to recruit and sign a player immediately if he’s a good fit for their team. That said the bulk of the players ready to play in the CJFL will sign June 1st.
Once players sign on the dotted line, coaches can begin developing their schemes and systems around their potential starters. They can also begin preparing for their Main Camp along with Week 1 of the regular season, still to be determined as restrictions from COVID-19 are ongoing.
All three Conferences and 18 CJFL teams will participate on June 1st, signing players to their 2021 roster including the newest franchise, the Quinte Skyhawks.
Fans can keep up to date with CJFL National Signing Day on social media with #CJFLSigningDay as teams will be posting once a player signs.