Langley Jr. Rams kick off campaign Saturday

A pair of B.C. junior football heavyweights are set to duke it out Saturday at McLeod Stadium, to open their respective seasons.

The Langley Rams B.C. Football Conference 2014 season (and home) opener is against Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Raiders.

Kickoff is 4 p.m.

The teams have developed quite a rivalry, with the Raiders outscoring the Rams 48-37 in the Cullen Cup final in October.

The victory avenged the Raiders’ 20-13 loss to the Rams in the 2012 Cullen Cup title game, as they reclaimed the BCFC throne for the seventh time in eight years.

“The coaching staff and the players are all ready,” said Rams bench boss Jeff Alamolhoda, who retakes the head coaching reins after handling general manager duties this past season. “We can’t wait for Saturday to come. We’ve been in main camp for three weeks, so we finally get to hit a different coloured jersey. Everyone is really excited about that.”

The Raiders and Rams know each other very well, having met in the past three B.C. championship games.

“They are going to bring everything they have, just like they have in the past,” Alamolhoda said, about the Raiders.  “They’re always well disciplined, and always bring their ‘A’ game when they play us.”Alamolhoda said “there is definitely some bad blood between the two teams.”

“We’ve met in Cullen Cup the last three years so anytime you’re battling at that level, it’s going to create animosity between each other,” he added. “We know it’s going to be a physical game, a 60-minute game, and guys can’t quit halfway through.”

Powered by some fine individual performances, the Rams finished with a 7-3 regular season record in 2013 (with two of their losses to the Raiders, who finished 8-2) and won their semifinal playoff game 24-13 over the Okanagan Sun, before losing to the Raiders in the Cullen Cup match-up.

The majority of the Rams’ coaching staff from the 2012 B.C. championship team is back to guide a Langley squad that has a core group of veterans mixed in with some newcomers with little to no experience junior football.

“We feel we will definitely have to bring the guys up to speed,” Alamolhoda said. “We’ll have to see how they react when the lights go on and the bullets start flying. How they react will determine who will keep their starting spots during the season.”

With a clean slate in front of them, the Rams are taking a “practice approach” to the season, Alamolhoda said: “We’ll take a step-by-step process and create a teaching environment, and bring these young men’s acclimation to junior football up to speed as fast as we can.”

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