Football season is officially back.
It was a battle of the top two pre-season teams as Vernon Secondary School Panthers hosted the G.W. Graham Grizzlies of Chilliwack Friday afternoon. The host Panthers eked out a 16-8 win in what proved to be a war of attrition, with hot temperatures and high compete levels on both sides.
“The heat was definitely a factor for both teams out there. We couldn’t get enough water in them and it took it’s toll as we got the end of the game,” said Panthers’ coach Sean Smith.
The panthers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first half, in large part due to Zack Smith intercepting a close touchdown from the Grizzlies – his first of two interceptions in the game. Caden Danbrook scored the Panther’s first touchdown and Liam Reid added a field goal.
G.W. looked hungry to cut their deficit to start the second half, marching down to the Panthers’ five yard line. But they weren’t able to cap off the drive as a fumble was recovered by the Panthers who then drove back down the field 95 yards, including a 35 yard reception by Johnathan Bielski. Matthew Reich finished the drive with a seven yard touchdown run to push the lead to 16.
But the Grizzlies weren’t finished making deep drives, and to start the fourth quarter they made it count in the red zone. A 30 yard touchdown pass was capped off by a two-point conversion to cut the Panthers’ lead to eight. If not for a second interception by Zack Smith, the Grizzlies may have tied the game late, but that pick would seal the win for the Panthers.
“We were down to our last ounce of gas when the time ran out,” said coach Smith. Matthew Reich was outstanding in all aspects of the game for us today. He made 10 tackles and ran for 51 tough yards. We pretty much had to carry him off the field.”
Smith had nothing but kind words for the Grizzlies, who battled hard and were unfortunate not to capitalize on touchdown opportunities.
“GW is a well coached team that has a lot of horses. They will be a much different and better team in November which is scary. I loved their tenacity and they have some big boys to contend with. I’d be shocked if they weren’t playing in the Subway bowl in late November.”
Rutland routes Fulton
Elsewhere in high school football, the Fulton Maroons senior team lost its exhibition game against the Rutland Voodoos by a score of 14-52 at the Greater Vernon Athletic Park in Coldstream.
Fulton quarterback Dom Peterson had two touchdown passes and 20 yards passing, but defensively the Maroons weren’t up to the test put in front of them.
“We had some bright spots for an opening game, we are pretty young this year and are somewhat inexperienced,” said Fulton coach Mike Scheller. “That being said, we had a lot of negatives too. Our coaching staff was not happy with our toughness or our effort on a number of plays in all three phases of the game. We need to play tougher and be tougher mentally.”
Despite the lopsided score, Scheller was able to see through to some bright spots.
“Ethan Schiman had a good game at center for us. Liam Davison was a very effective target at tight end for us. Peterson delivered the ball very well on some passes, but needs to play more consistent. (Dayton) Ingenhaag was a good player for us at linebacker and Cavan Tilbert was tough at defensive tackle.”
Schiman and Davison both had a sack, while Ingenhaag had a team-high three tackles.