(Langley Advance files)

Langley Rams ready for home opener

The local football season begins this weekend at McLeod Athletic Park.

The Langley Rams begin their season at home this weekend, with the hopes that a seasoned team will take on some of the toughest competition in their conference.

“As a team we’ve matured,” said Dana Matheson, the Rams president. “We were a really young team last year.”

The Rams take to the field to test how well they’ve matured at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 29 against the Vancouver Island Raiders.

The Raiders will face some familiar faces and some new ones.

“Our coaching staff has recruited really hard,” Matheson said.

In particular, they’ve beefed up the offensive and defensive lines. The Rams never lacked for talent, but their lack of size on the lines led to them getting pushed around a bit, Matheson said.

Some bigger players will help stop that from happening this year.

Offensively, this should be a big year for the team, Matheson said.

Shawn Olson joined the team last year as the new offensive coordinator, and the team has been working and training towards his strategies in the off season.

A few players are expected to make a bigger contribution than last year.

Matheson mentioned sure-handed receiver Nick Agnoletto, and also singled out Nathan Lund, who was out with an injury most of last year. “He’s very explosive,” Matheson said.

Running back Joseph Carter is “a tought, physical runner,” Matheson said, and his fellow running back Tyrel Ogloff is back as well.

Matheson doesn’t downplay the competition.

The Westshore Rebels, the Okanagan Sun, and the Vancouver Island Raiders in particular are all tough teams.

In 2016, the Rams had a respectable 6-4 win-loss record, placing them third in the seven-team British Columbia Football Conference.

The Westshore Rebels stormed out of the Okanagan last year to dominate every other team, with an 8-1-1 record. At 7-3, the Okanagan Sun were also tough competitors.

It was the Sun that would beat the Rams in last year’s post-season.

This year, Matheson believes there won’t be one team trouncing everyone else. The top four teams should each be competitive, he believes.

As for their contest this weekend, the players are ready, Matheson said.

“The players are all fired up and ready to go,” he said.

The game begins at 4 p.m. at McLeod Athletic Park, with the gates open an hour prior to the event. Children under 12 can enter free.

The game will also be Alumni Night for the Rams, with plenty of past players in attendance.

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