A pair of long touchdown passes proved the difference as the Fulton Maroons grounded the host Salmon Arm Golds 27-14 in their final Okanagan senior AA boys varsity football preseason game Friday at Little Mountain Field.
Quarterback Tye Kitzman delivered a pair of aerial strikes, sending Caleb McCuaig for a 65-yard score in the second quarter, while Trevor Feeney reeled in a 45-yarder in the third.
“Offensively, it was nice to get on track after two sub-par games,” said Maroons’ head coach Mike Scheller. “Kitzman has worked very hard in practice and he was on the money with his accuracy Friday. He did a great job of driving our attack.”
Tailback Davron Polok jumpstarted the Fulton offence in the first quarter by plunging in from nine yards.
“He got yards for us every time we needed them,” said Scheller. “I was very happy with our offensive line and how they fired out.
“Tackles Brett Shaigec and Trenton Smith both were tough in there, and new centre Lucky Banga did a great job with our shotgun offence.”
With Fulton ahead 14-7 at the half, Ryan Buick extended the lead with a four-yard reception from Kitzman.
Buick earlier caught a Kitzman pass for a two-point convert on McCuaig’s TD.
Kitzman went 6-for-12 for 126 aerial yards, three touchdowns with just one interception.
On the ground, Polok racked up 126 yards on 17 carries, and Max Chapman chipped in with 66 yards on 11 touches.
Defensively, Carson Deboer led the Fulton hit parade with eight tackles, with Feeney adding seven, and Sikandar Ahmad and Chapman each supplying five.
Buick, Deboer and Darrien Broomfield each collected a sack.
“We were very happy as a team to get our first win of the season,” said Scheller. “As a coaching staff, we were happy with the way our kids played. It was a very physical game and it was awesome to hear the pads cracking like they were that night. There were some big hits delivered by both clubs.”
Scheller singled out the efforts of Ahmad, a 160-pound defensive end/offensive guard, as his unsung hero.
“He is tough as nails. He is a quiet kid who just plays hard and is extremely coachable. He played his guts out Friday on both sides of the ball and deserves a lot of credit.”
The Maroons open the regular season Friday against the host Mt. Baker Trojans in Cranbrook. They will stop in Moscow, Idaho on Saturday to watch the University of Idaho Vandals play the Temple Owls of Philadelphia in NCAA Division 1 football.
Meanwhile, the Vernon Panthers scored on their first five possessions and then cruised to a 39-6 win over the host Westsdyde Blue Wave in their season opener Friday night in Kamloops.
Karson Patommel, who joined the Cats from the Kal Lakers’ program, opened the scoring with a 60-yard scamper on the third play from scrimmage. Tailback Zac Kronbauer followed it up with a 25-yarder, and then hauled in a 15-yard TD reception from QB John Garvie.
Back-up tailback Levi Nicholas, who had a game-high 101 yards on five carries, rounded out the first quarter scoring by rambling in from eight yards.
“We were firing on all cylinders from the opening whistle,” said Panther head coach Sean Smith.
“It was nice to get our passing game going. Garvie (6-for-10, 60 yards, 1 TD) made the right reads and found the open receivers and had good protection.”
Patommel scored from 10 yards out to make it 33-0 going into the break. Kronbauer picked off an errant Westsyde pass on the first drive of the second half, taking it 45 yards to the end zone.
Westsyde responded with a touchdown on a long bomb.
“While we played a pretty solid game, there are number things that need to be cleaned up in practice this week if we are going to improve,” said Smith. “We were called for a number of penalties which would have hurt us in a closer game. We also have to tighten up our extra point protection.”
Smith was pleased to get some injured players back in the lineup for some added depth at the skill possessions. Nicholas was one of those players, and he looked great on both sides of the ball, said Smith.
Defensively, Pattomel and Travis Froom led all tacklers with four apiece. Wade Buller added three tackles, two of them for losses.
The Panthers host Westsyde Saturday, at noon, at Grahame Park.