Morning Star Staff
Grade 10 Kael Black had a memorable home junior varsity football debut Wednesday night at the Greater Vernon Athletics Park.
The rookie took the opening kickoff 70 yards to score his first career touchdown and capped it off with a 30 yard interception return in the second half.
Mixed in between were a team-high five tackles.
Black’s two touchdowns sparked the VSS Panthers to a 42-0 victory over crosstown rival Fulton Maroons.
“It was great to see Kael’s hard work in practice pay off,” said Panther head coach Sean Smith. “He’s done a great job to get himself up to speed despite missing spring camp.”
The Cats’ high-octane offence was on full display with Grade 9 quarterback Zack Smith completing nine of 15 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
Smith also called his own number on a scramble to score from the 10, and ran in a two-point convert. Grade 9 rookie Kaden Danbrook had his best game as a Panther, hauling in three passes for 88 yards; including a 46-yard touchdown grab to put the Panthers up by 14 early in the first.
Grade 8s Ethan Mitchell (40-yard TD catch) and Jarrett Cooper (three-yard TD carry) also reached the end zone.
The Cats held the Maroons scoreless with a solid defensive effort. Drew Mackenzie, Riley Macgillivray, Trey Defoor and Charles Lemay all registered four tackles.
“I was impressed with the improvement of our kicking game today,” added Smith. “We’ve been working on extra point a lot in practice and we hit four of six this week. Liam Reid is starting to find his groove as both a punter and kicker.”
Lemay ran 42 yards on two touches, while Macgillivray rang up three catches for 68 yards and Matthew Reich pocketed one 26-yard aerial.
Lemay, Mackenzie, Trey Defoor and Macgillivray each recorded four tackles.
For Fulton, Ethan Schiman rushed 16 times for 34 yards, while Chapperon Chillihitzia had six touches for a dozen yards.
Rav Dhanoa had a seven-yard reception from QB Evan Trottier, who threw the ball three times. Schiman posted five tackles, while Logan Higgs produced four and Axel Ferguson earned three.
“It was not a bad first game for our kids,” said Fulton head coach Mike Scheller. “It was the very first football game for about 70 per cent of our roster so was a bit hectic for a while. Once we settled down, the effort was there. VSS has a very good team. The majority of those kids played together for quite a while in the minor system and they looked very good. Their coaching staff has done a great job with them.”
Scheller gave major props to Schiman.
“He is a hard-working, tough football player. Logan Higgs turned in a good effort at linebacker and centre. He is a leader on this team. Evan Trottier made some good decisions at QB and was solid at corner. Rav Dhanoa played good in his first game as a defensive end.”
The senior Maroons lost 47-22 to the Omak Pioneers in exhibition play last Friday in Washington State.
Caden Doyle fashioned a 102-yard interception return and hauled in a 30-yard TD reception from Ike Olson. Koalden Gudeit-Oakden had a 61-yard rushing TD.
“Their starters were far superior to us,” said Scheller. “It was 41-0 at half. They played their subs in the second half and we played them well.”
The Maroons attended the University of Washington Cougars-Idaho Vandals game Saturday in Pullman. The Cougars won 56-6.
The Panthers enter their bye week with a 3-0 record (1-0 league) and take on the South Kamloops Titans Tuesday, Oct. 4 on the college turf (4 p.m. kickoff).
Fulton hosts the Westyde Blue Wave of Kamloops Tuesday, 4 p.m, at Grahame Park.