Given props by the Okanagan AA Football Conference for Offensive and Defensive MVP and eight all-stars, the Kalamalka Lakers go into B.C. Place today oozing confidence.
The Lakers, who won their conference at 4-0, battle the Robert Bateman Timberwolves of Abbotsford in first-round senior AA varsity action at noon.
“We’ve met them three times in the last four years and we’re trying to get our team up to this level,” said Laker head coach and former CFLer Brad Yamaoka. “They’re going to be tough, a typical good Coast team with a good running game, speed and size.”
The Lakers took the South Delta Pacers right to the wire in last year’s playoffs, and the Pacers won the Southern Conference at 5-0 this year.
“We didn’t really lose anyone from last year and I think South Delta is ranked No. 1 or 2 so we should be able to compete with Bateman.”
Kal played an abbreviated league schedule due to the VSS Panthers and Okanagan Mission Huskies dropping out. They split two exhibition games.
The Lakers will take a 23-man roster to Vancouver with all-star defensive lineman Austin Westgarde a possible starter with a wonky knee he tweaked in phys-ed class this week.
In the conference award voting, Kal quarterback Brendan Squair took the Offensive MVP, completing 20 of 34 passes for 322 yards and four TDs. He tossed two interceptions and also played safety and did some kicking.
“He’s been our leader since the get go,” said Yamaoka, of the 5-foot-7, 180-pounder. “He shows up every time and he wants to learn. He’s a super athletic kid and a kid any coach would love on his team.”
Defensive MVP winner was 5-foot-10, 180-pound Robby Filice, fifth in the confernece with 41 tackles. Filice also had two picks and one TD.
“He’s one of our more aggressive guys. He’s an inspirational-type player,” said Yamaoka. “If you need a big hit or something to get the kids going, he’s your guy. He’ll just keep hitting ya all day, he won’t stop. He plays rugby and trains hard in the offseason so he’s very fit. He’s the one guy on our team who could make an impact at the next (Junior A) level right away.”
Runningback Karson Patommel, who had 28 carries for 343 yards and four TDs, receiver Evan Patommel, who recorded five catches for 67 yards, and O-lineman Andrew Farmer represent Kal on the Offensive All-Star Team.
Making the grade on defence were linebacker Warden Vanderveen and defensive back Ben Rusk, both with 19 tackles, Westgarde, who tallied 11 tackles and three sacks, DL Chris Leverman, with 35 tackles and three sacks, and DL Michael Filipenko, who dialed up a dozen tackles and two sacks.
The Timberwolves finished in a three-way tie for second spot in the Eastern Conference at 3-2, with the Pitt Meadows Marauders and Rick Hansen Hurricanes of Abbotsford. The T-Wolves lost 30-7 to the Conference champion Mission Roadrunners last weekend.
Bateman is led by quarterback Tanner Friesen, who passed for 583 yards, scored four rushing TDs and chipped in with 27 tackles and three interceptions, two for TDs, on defence. Runningback Ben Cummings racked up 528 yards and four scores.
Wide receiver Riley Davis reeled in 14 catches for 232 yards and four touchdowns, while registering 26 tackles on defence.