Jaden Steinke of the VSS Panthers carries the ball against the Duchess Park Condors of Prince George in junior varsity football playoff action Thursday in Kamloops.

Jaden Steinke of the VSS Panthers carries the ball against the Duchess Park Condors of Prince George in junior varsity football playoff action Thursday in Kamloops.

Panthers host Roadrunners tonight

The Vernon Panthers host the No. 1 Mission Roadrunners in an opening round of 16 B.C. AA High School Senior Varsity Football League game.

Morning Star Staff

There will be no anvils, no ACME products and no gimmicks to try and stop these Roadrunners tonight.

Instead, the Vernon Panthers will have to play a sound game for 48 minutes as they host the fourth-ranked Mission Roadrunners in an opening round of 16 B.C. AA High School Senior Varsity Football playoff game at 6 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletics Park.

“Mission is a perennial AA football powerhouse. They are always there at the end of the season (lost in the final last season) and are very well coached,” said Panthers head coach Sean Smith.

“From watching game film we know they are very physical, strong at the point of attack and will take advantage of us if we aren’t filling gaps and playing within our game plan.

“Defensively, they play very sound on the back end and will be very tough to pass on. We will have our hands full. Having said that, my boys are playing their best football of the year, and if we are on top of our game, we could upset them. Playing a top-ranked team like this will be a good test to see where this group fits in.”

The Roadrunners went 3-2 in the B.C. AA Eastern Conference, and are coming off a 19-0 loss to conference champion G.W. Graham Eagles of Chilliwack

The Panthers enter tonight’s game having blitzed the Fulton Maroons 52-0 for the team’s fourth city championship title in five years (didn’t have a senior team one year), and an unbeaten regular season in the Okanagan Conference (4-0). VSS senior teams have yet to lose a conference game in four straight years.

Vernon players dominated the conference awards, led by double winner Ben Hladik who was named most outstanding defensive player and most outstanding Grade 11 player.

“Ben has dedicated himself to being the best football player he can be,” said Smith. “He is not only a very big, strong presence on the field, but is also the smartest defensive end I’ve ever coached. He is great at anticipating and getting his hands up to deflect passes but can also stuff the run and shed blockers.”

Hladik was one of seven Panthers to pick up year-end hardware.

Running back Levi Nicholas – called “the most dynamic player in the league” by his head coach – was named the most outstanding offensive player. Zach Hyer was named all-star defensive back (No. 1-ranked). His brother, Josh, was the top-ranked all-star tight end. Justin Haverkamp was named all-star defensive back (No.2-ranked behind Zach Hyer). Tyler Riva was chosen all-star defensive end (No. 1-ranked) and Jessie Bielski was selected all-star offensive lineman (No.3-ranked).

“I am very proud of what these boys have accomplished as Panthers,” said Smith. “They have dedicated themselves in the weight room and did a lot of off-season training which had a huge effect on their performance on the field.

“I felt that we had some other players that were also deserving but couldn’t get everyone on the list. Hopefully they will be there next season.”

Proceeds from tonight’s 50/50 draw will be given to the family of former Panthers all-star Liam Wear, whose father, Neil, was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Neil Wear is a former Panthers coach and Vernon teacher who now lives at the coast.

“He is undergoing chemotherapy which will make it very difficult for him to work his construction job, putting huge financial strains on the family,” said Smith.

Liam Wear played four years with the Panthers.

Meanwhile, the Vernon Panthers’ junior varsity season ended Thursday morning in Kamloops.

The Duchess Park Condors of Prince George advanced to the B.C. quarterfinals with a 25-17 round-of-16 win over the Panthers.

Charles Lemay and Bradley Hladik had touchdowns for VSS while Dylan Huber added a field goal at Hillside Stadium.



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Kamloops RCMP detachment is asking for the public’s help in finding Kayne Pasco, a Vernon man wanted on several B.C. charges. (Contributed)
Wanted Vernon man believed to be in Kamloops: RCMP

Kayne Pasco, 27, is wanted in the province for several offences

Vernon Morning Star columnist Sam McNair gives an inside look to One Yoga in Vernon. (Sam McNair - Contributed)
Small Business Spotlight: One Yoga Vernon

It’s 2021 and everyone is looking forward to a new year full… Continue reading

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon’s Heritage Square long-term care home has now claimed eight lives as of Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19 claims another life at Vernon’s Heritage Square

Eight residents of the assisted living facility have died due to the virus to date

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

(Pixabay photo)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines of the week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Big White Village on Dec. 16. (Big White photo)
11 more COVID-19 cases linked to Big White cluster

Interior Health provided an update on the cluster on Friday

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘It’s incredibly upsetting’: Kelowna health care worker demands WestJet ticket refund

Kelowna woman has been waiting almost a year for a refund on her Kelowna to Edmonton flight

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read