A historic night in the North Okanagan belonged to the boys in blue.
The blue-white-and-gold-clad UBC Thunderbirds from Vancouver defeated the white-and-red Calgary Dinos 28-7 in the first Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl Canadian U-Sports exhibition football game played in the North Okanagan in front of nearly 2,000 people, the biggest crowd to watch any event at Greater Vernon Athletic Park Wednesday, Aug. 24.
“The first Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl was a resounding success,” said Malcolm Reid of the host Kalamalka Bowl Society.
The teams were tied 2-2 on a pair of safeties after one quarter. UBC took control in the second, scoring 16 unanswered points for an 18-2 lead at the half. The T-Birds were up 28-4 heading into the final 15 minutes.
Kal Tire’s Ryan Paulson presented UBC captains Manu Giovanni, Gavin Coakes, Luke Pearson and Ryan Baker with the Kalamalka Bowl in a post-game ceremony.
Giovanni, a towering offensive lineman, was named player of the game while Vernon’s Liam Reid of the Dinos was chosen as the Okanagan player of the game.
Reid, Roan Reid, Josh Hyer and Brady Szeman, all from Vernon, played for Calgary, as did Kelowna’s Nate Beauchemin. Vernon’s Zack Smith and Kelowna’s Isaac Athans and Easton and Everett Schmuland did not play for the Dinos.
UBC dressed Okanagan-Thompson products Brandon Sanford of Salmon Arm, Nicholas Stanfield of West Kelowna and Liam Wishart of Kamloops. Vernon’s Bradley Hladik did not play for the T-Birds.
Tyler Welfing of Vernon’s CarveWel Creations presented beautiful wood carvings of a dinosaur and thunderbird to head coaches Wayne Harris of Calgary and Blake Nill of Vancouver, respectively.
The Thunderbirds have been ranked No. 5 in the first CIS U-Sports Top 10 football poll while the Dinos received honourable mention. The top-rated Canada West Conference team is the Alberta Golden Bears at No. 2.
Ontario’s Western Mustangs are ranked No. 1.
The game was created by the Kalamalka Bowl Society, who hoped to make the contest an annual event to help promote sports in the community.
“We have received extremely positive feedback from the teams, our sponsors and of course the community,” said Malcolm Reid. “We now will be looking how to make this an annual event coming back bigger and better next year. A huge thank you from the Kalamalka Bowl Society to our sponsors and the community for supporting this event.
“As well this event could never have happened without the army of volunteers showing our visiting teams and spectators true Vernon hospitality.”
Festivities kicked off Tuesday, Aug. 23 after the teams arrived in Vernon. Both schools took part in helping with a skills camp for minor and high school football players, then both had some fun at a meet-and-greet and free concert in Polson Park called Huddle in the Park, which included the teams playing Minute to Win It games to determine who ate first.