Panthers claim Battle of Vernon, first round

The Vernon Panthers race on to the field at Greater Vernon Athletic Park for their Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference exhibition showdown with their crosstown rivals, the Fulton Maroons, Friday, Oct. 7. (Darren Hove Photo)The Vernon Panthers race on to the field at Greater Vernon Athletic Park for their Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference exhibition showdown with their crosstown rivals, the Fulton Maroons, Friday, Oct. 7. (Darren Hove Photo)
Fulton Maroons tacklers Brett O’Dwyer (66) and Rylan Nadurak (16) stare down Vernon runner Joe Murphy during the Panthers’ 35-7 Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference exhibition win Friday, Oct. 7, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)Fulton Maroons tacklers Brett O’Dwyer (66) and Rylan Nadurak (16) stare down Vernon runner Joe Murphy during the Panthers’ 35-7 Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference exhibition win Friday, Oct. 7, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)
Vernon Panthers defender Liam Greenan (12) gets set to help an unidentified teammate bring down Fulton Maroons runner Jentezen Peterson during VSS’ 35-7 Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference xhibition win Friday, Oct. 7, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)Vernon Panthers defender Liam Greenan (12) gets set to help an unidentified teammate bring down Fulton Maroons runner Jentezen Peterson during VSS’ 35-7 Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference xhibition win Friday, Oct. 7, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)
Vernon Panthers quarterback Braden Khunkhun (4) is chased out of the pocket by Fulton teammates Rylan Nadurak (16) and Sam Levesque during VSS’ 35-7 Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference exhibition win over the Maroons Friday, Oct. 7, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)Vernon Panthers quarterback Braden Khunkhun (4) is chased out of the pocket by Fulton teammates Rylan Nadurak (16) and Sam Levesque during VSS’ 35-7 Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference exhibition win over the Maroons Friday, Oct. 7, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)
Pleasant Valley Secondary Hawks runner Malachi Strykowski (38) is stopped by Fulton’s Reid Williamson (13) with Colin Mackay (50) in support in Interior AA Junior Varsity High School Football Conference play Thursday, Oct. 6, at Grahame Park. (Jenna Fochler Photo)Pleasant Valley Secondary Hawks runner Malachi Strykowski (38) is stopped by Fulton’s Reid Williamson (13) with Colin Mackay (50) in support in Interior AA Junior Varsity High School Football Conference play Thursday, Oct. 6, at Grahame Park. (Jenna Fochler Photo)
Fulton Maroons receiver Caleb Buffie (7) hauls in a pass in front of Pleasant Valley Secondary Hawks defender Jon Odwory during Interior AA Junior Varsity Conference High School Football play Thursday, Oct. 6, at Grahame Park. (Jenna Fochler Photo)Fulton Maroons receiver Caleb Buffie (7) hauls in a pass in front of Pleasant Valley Secondary Hawks defender Jon Odwory during Interior AA Junior Varsity Conference High School Football play Thursday, Oct. 6, at Grahame Park. (Jenna Fochler Photo)

Round 1 in the Battle of Vernon goes to the gang on the hill.

The Vernon Panthers got on top early, scoring 35 unanswered first-half points and cruising to a 35-7 Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference exhibition win over their crosstown rivals, the Fulton Maroons, Friday, Oct. 7, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.

On what was termed White Out Night, with Panther fans decked out in white shirts, and the team wearing all-whites, the Cats got on the board quickly scoring three majors on their first seven offensive plays.

Braden Khunkhun hit Mitchell Bond on a 56-yard bomb on the game’s opening play and Joe Murphy finished off the drive on the ensuing run play to make it 7-0. Murphy would score his second of three majors on their next offensive play following a 42-yard run to the end zone.

Scotty Hoffman was on the receiving end of a 20-yard touchdown pass from Khunkhun to cap their third major of the quarter. The Panthers would add two more in the second stanza with Mitchell Bond (four catches for 99 yards) on the receiving end of an 18-yard TD receptions, while Murphy tallied his third of the night with a 38-yard run to give the home team a 35-0 lead heading into the break.

Murphy cracked the 100-yard barrier, finishing with 108 yards on five carries.

“I thought we came out of the gates strong and played faster than we’ve played in previous games,” said Panthers head coach Sean Smith. “This was the first game we’ve been able to execute our game plan on both sides of the ball for four quarters which was encouraging.”

Khunkhun finished 5-11 through the air for 152 yards and the three majors. Backup Elijah Warner was 2-2 for 26 yards.

Defensively, the Panthers were able to hold Fulton’s ground game in check, and despite giving up a touchdown in the second half, were able to limit them offensively.

“Fulton’s got a great running back (Jentezen Peterson) that is tough, runs hard and is able to make guys miss with his power and cuts,” said Smith. “I thought our defence did a great job limiting him, despite his ability to be a game-changer.”

Jentezen Peterson scored the Maroons’ lone touchdown in the second half on a two-yard run. He finished the night with 95 yards rushing on 23 carries.

“Full credit to Vernon, they dismantled us in all four phases of the game – coaching, offence, defence and special teams,” said Fulton head coach Mike Scheller. “Coach Smith has put together a great looking squad that is well-oiled and fast. They are big and play with great intensity. They definitely are a contender for the provincial title this year and they prove it weekly. They whipped us.”

Terry Johnson led all Vernon tacklers with 5.5 and a sack, and nose tackle Jace Collard added 4.5 tackles and sack of his own.

“I was happy that we were able to get some of our reserves into the game and the level of play didn’t drop off,” said Smith. “We don’t have a lot of senior depth, so seeing some of our juniors come in and contribute was encouraging.”

Peterson also caught two balls from quarterback Brad Scabar. Leon Defauw led the Maroons defensively with six tackles while Dom Kitzman added five and Griff Morrier chipped in four.

“Middle linebacker Griff Morrier played very well and was our best player on defence,” said Scheller. “Dani Gonzalez at safety had another strong game for us.

“Leon Defauw also played very well for us at linebacker , hustling and making plays. He is a great team player. We are very young at the varsity level and not having a varsity team last year has slowed our development.”

Round 2 of the Battle of Vernon will take place on Friday, Oct. 21, a regular-season contest at 7 p.m., with the Maroons the home team at GVAP.

“I fully expect Fulton will make some adjustments and will give us all we can handle in two-weeks time in the rematch,” said Smith. “We will have two weeks to prepare, but will have to practice well since we have a bye next weekend. One area we need to clean up on is penalties. We had six penalties for 65 yards which is not acceptable.”

The Maroons will begin their regular season in Salmon Arm Friday, Oct. 14, against the Golds.

• In Junior Varsity action, the VSS Panthers rolled to a 49-0 romp over the Salmon Arm Golds at GVAP while at Grahame Park, the Fulton Maroons took care of the visiting Pleasant Valley Saints of Armstrong 42-13.

Gabe Adam threw three touchdowns for the Maroons, two of 29 and 15 yards to Lucas Horne, and a 24-yarder to Carter Moore, who also added a 70-yard punt return for a major. Adam was 7-11 for 135 yards. Reid Williamson scored on both sides of the ball, rushing 60 yards for one Fulton TD, part of his 133 yards gained on the ground, and returning an interception 29 yards to the end zone.

Williamson led the defence with seven tackles.

“This was a nice win for our kids and I thought they performed very well,” said Scheller. Anytime you score in all three phases of the game, you have a had a good team effort. We were playing a team with a few injuries and is brand new to football. It is great to have PVSS in our conference and they have some talented kids.”

Scheller’s JV squad took just two penalties and committed no turnovers.

“That is disciplined smart football,” he said. “We have a big JV roster and it was good to get all our guys into the game. Our subs got some good playing time. Adam moved to the starting quarterback position and played great. He is cool back there and made good decisions with the football. Offensive coordinator Cole Tucker made some very good play calls. Horne at fullback found the end zone twice and is very deserving. He is a great teammate and works hard in practice. Williamson had a great game on both sides of the ball and is a threat to score every time he touches it.”

Scheller praised the play of the offensive line featuring Cole Breugom, Colin Mackay, Ammo Mann, Mason Macaskill and Austin Goff. Defensively, Scheller said Jeremy Peterson is playing great at safety. Linebacker Oliie Horne stepped up and made some big plays. Defensive coordinator Kevin Stecyk did a great job of rotating players in and has the defencse rolling. Safety Carter Moore and cornerback Caleb Buffie also were solid in the Fulton secondary.

VSS will play PVSS and the Maroons take on Salmon Arm. Both games are in Salmon Arm Thursday, Oct. 13.

This story was updated Monday, Oct. 10, with information from both Fulton games

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