V.I. Raiders start season with two close wins

The Vancouver Island Raiders are off to a quick 2-0 start and with quarterback Liam O’Brien back in this weekend, their prospects look good.

The Vancouver Island Raiders are off to a quick 2-0 start and with quarterback Liam O’Brien hoping to draw back in this weekend, their prospects look good.

O’Brien, the former Ballenas Whaler quarterback, missed last week’s game against the Westshore Rebels, a close 23-21 victory, with an undisclosed injury. With the week to recover, O’Brien said he’s ready and hopes to be behind centre against the Okangan Sun this weekend.

“I’ve been taking it day by day,” O’Brien said. “I’ll be getting back into practice this week though. I’m starting to feel better and hopefully I’ll be able to get back in there and play this weekend.”

With O’Brien out of the lineup against the Rebels, the Raiders leaned on wide receiver and fellow-former Whaler Dustin Rodriguez, as well as rookie QB Brody Taylor.

Rodriguez was doing it all, running the ball three times for 33 yards, making one catch for 33 yards, collecting a tackle on the defensive side of things and completing two passes for 18 yards. D-Rod, as he’s known, also covers punting duties for the Raiders, as well as going 1-1 on an extra point convert.

“He’s a good guy to have on a team,” O’Brien said. “He can pretty much do it all, so it’s good to know he’s with us. You don’t find a lot of players like that in the game of football that can do a bit of everything.”

In the action so far this season, O’Brien and Rodriguez have had good chemistry together. Going back to their days with the Whalers, the duo have formed a bond that helps them find one another for big plays.

“It helps for sure,” O’Brien said. “The fact that we’ve been together as teammates for so long really makes it easier for us on the field.”

“We have a good feeling of what’s going on out there and we’re able to read certain situations that other players might not have a feel for.”

With their win last week over the Rebels, and an opening weekend win over the defending B.C. Football League champion Langley Rams, the Raiders are off to a hot start under new head coach Jerome Eardmann, who took over for former Whalers coach Jeremy Conn after Conn had to step down due to health reasons.

“Everyone has bought into the system,” O’Brien said. “We’re all focused every week at practice and we’re ready and focused on beating Okanagan this week. It’s going to be another tough game but hopefully we’ll get a big turnout from the fans and pull out another big win.”

“We’ve played two close games here to start the season off and to come out of both games sitting with two wins, it’s pretty huge.”

“We know that we’re a good team and we know what we’re capable of doing out there on the field, it’s just a matter of getting out there and making it happen.”

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