Morning Star Staff
The Vernon Magnums will entertain the Kelowna Lions Sunday in the Southern Interior Junior Football Conference playoff final at the Greater Vernon Athletics Park (2 p.m.).
Ethan Mitchell recorded three touchdowns as the Magnums ambushed the Kelowna Riders 57-6 in Sunday’s semifinal in Vernon.
Mitchell scored on the Magnums’ second drive, hauling in a 31-yard pass from quarterback Zack Smith. Smith was 4-for-5 and 66 yards passing and called his own number for scores on consecutive drives to put Vernon up by 24.
The Riders took the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for their only scoring play.
Back-up tailback Liam Gombrich added to the scoring parade when he rambled in from 30 yards, dragging would-be-tacklers with him. Matthew Reich rounded out the first-half scoring with a nifty 20-yard TD run to make it 40-0 Magnums at the half.
“Our boys played about as good of a half of football as we could expect. They tackled well, hit open receivers and ran the ball at will” said Vernon head coach Doug Ondrik.
The second half saw more of the same when Mitchell ripped the ball out of a Rider ball carrier’s hands and took it to the end zone. He then followed it up by taking a reverse 42 yards for his third TD.
Placekicker Trent Charlton went 8-for-8 on his extra point attempts and punter Isaiah Ondrik contributed a single for the 9-0 Magnums.
“I really liked that we were able to have eight different boys carry the ball and three different players catch a pass – and still scored on all but one drive in the game,” said offensive coordinator Sean Smith.
“We have a few things that we need to clean up before the finals but I like the way we are moving the ball.”
Jarrett Cooper had five touches for 12 yards, while Charlton ran 17 yards on two carries.
Ondrik and Reich led all tacklers with six, while Smith contributed 5 along with an interception. Ethan Schiman was disruptive in the Rider backfield all game and registered four tackles, including two sacks.
“Our biggest test of the season will be this Sunday against the (7-2) Lions. We beat them handily the first time we played them, but I’m sure they are looking to knock us off,” said Ondrik.
In Atom playoff action, the Magnums lost 36-8 to the host and undefeated Kamloops Broncos.
Quarterback Owen Ranger made nine outstanding tackles, followed by Lochlen Kilford (6) and Morgan Hackman (6) with a fumble recovery.
Nathan Rinkel, Tristan McKenzie, Sophia Winstanley and Issaiah Grant registered some hard-hitting tackles.
Reid Williamson ran for a 45-yard touchdown, while Ranger delivered 35 rushing yards, Seth Holte 30 and Hackman 10.