The defending regular-season champion Westshore Rebels rallied for a 19-16 victory over the rejuvenated Langley Rams to open the 2018 B.C. Football Conference season in the Fraser Valley on Saturday.
The Rebels trailed 15-10 at the half and 16-10 at the end of the third quarter. Kyle Clarke’s second field goal of the game, followed by a converted touchdown by wide-receiver Nathan Falito, won it as the Rebels scored nine unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Running-back Khaliel James scored Westshore’s other touchdown in the second quarter to give the Rebels a 10-6 lead.
The game was closely watched by fans of junior football because people are expecting a turnaround for the Rams this season inspired by new Langley head coach Matt Blokker. He is the winningest coach in BCFC history and second winningest in Canadian junior football history, with 106 regular-season victories and 26 in the playoffs, due to his previous championship success on the Island with both the Rebels and VI Raiders. Blokker is most known for his era in Nanaimo, where he guided the Raiders to seven BCFC championships and three Canadian Bowl national titles in eight seasons from 2006 to 2013, and was named BCFC coach of the year four times and the Canadian junior football coach of the year twice.
Blokker returns to the BCFC after three successful season with the Calgary Colts of the Prairie Football Conference.
The rest of the BCFC teams open their seasons today, with the Vancouver Island Raiders in Chilliwack to play the Fraser Valley Huskers and Okanagan Sun in Kamloops to meet the Broncos.
The home openers for the Island clubs are next Sunday, with the Raiders hosting the Kamloops Broncos at Caledonia Park in the Harbour City, while the Okanagan Sun will be at Westhills Stadium to take on the Rebels in what will be another key early-season match-up.