Panthers, Maroons set for Battle of Vernon

Vernon Panthers receiver Tristan Mckenzie (13) shakes off a tackle from a Nechako Valley Vikings (Vanderhoof) defender during the Cats’ 44-8 AA Senior Varsity exhibition football win Friday, Sept. 30, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)_Vernon Panthers receiver Tristan Mckenzie (13) shakes off a tackle from a Nechako Valley Vikings (Vanderhoof) defender during the Cats’ 44-8 AA Senior Varsity exhibition football win Friday, Sept. 30, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)_
Vernon Panthers running back Joe Murphy (with ball) runs away from Nechako Valley Vikings (Vanderhoof) defender Ben Wall (left) during the Cats’ 44-8 pre-season senior varsity exhibition football win Friday, Sept. 30, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)Vernon Panthers running back Joe Murphy (with ball) runs away from Nechako Valley Vikings (Vanderhoof) defender Ben Wall (left) during the Cats’ 44-8 pre-season senior varsity exhibition football win Friday, Sept. 30, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove Photo)
Fulton Maroons quarterback Brad Scabar (4) looks to complete a pass against the South Kamloops Titans in Interior AA Senior Varsity Football exhibition play Friday, Sept. 30, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Jenna Fochler Photo)Fulton Maroons quarterback Brad Scabar (4) looks to complete a pass against the South Kamloops Titans in Interior AA Senior Varsity Football exhibition play Friday, Sept. 30, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Jenna Fochler Photo)
Fulton Maroons defenders Sam Levesque (88) and Jeremy Peterson (11) team up to stop a South Kamloops Titans runner with help from teamames Cam Hall (60) and Carter Moore (24) in Interior AA senior varsity pre-season football action Friday, Sept. 30, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Jenna Fochler Photo)Fulton Maroons defenders Sam Levesque (88) and Jeremy Peterson (11) team up to stop a South Kamloops Titans runner with help from teamames Cam Hall (60) and Carter Moore (24) in Interior AA senior varsity pre-season football action Friday, Sept. 30, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Jenna Fochler Photo)

The Vernon Panthers and Clarence Fulton Maroons tuned up for the renewal of their annual Battle of Vernon senior varsity high school football matchup with mixed results.

The crosstown rivals will face each other twice in three weeks, starting with the exhibition season finale Friday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m., at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. The Cats and Maroons meet again Friday, Oct. 21, in an Interior Conference regular-season contest.

The Panthers – ranked fourth in the B.C. AA pre-season rankings – built up a 35-0 first-half lead and cruised to a 44-8 exhibition win over the 10th-seeded Nechako Valley Vikings of Vanderhoof Friday, Oct.1, at GVAP.

VSS scored on all five first-half possessions on offence, and didn’t give up a first down on the other side of the ball. Quarterback Braden Khunkhun amassed 250 passing yards, going 13 of 22 through the air. HIs favourite target, Mitchell Bond, was on the receiving end of four of the passes (47 yds), while Scotty Hoffman snagged three balls for 94 yards – two of which resulted in touchdowns.

“I was happy with our overall execution on both sides of the ball,” said Panthers head coach Sean Smith. “Offensively, we were able to get lots of people involved with seven receivers catching balls and five getting carries.

“Defensively, new coordinator Connor Rothwell dialed up consistent pressure on a Vikings offence that put up big passing numbers against it’s only previous opponent (Shas Ti Kelly Road, Prince George). I thought our defence played faster today than in previous games and did a great job of gang tackling and pursuing the ball carrier. Connor mixed up the coverages and blitzes which made it difficult on their quarterback.”

Joe Murphy led all rushers, netting 78 yards on eight carries (including a 14-yard touchdown). Grade 10 Jonah Lee led all tacklers for the Panthers with five while Khunkhun and Tristan Mckenzie had interceptions.

“I see signs of improvement every week with this group,” said Smith. “We have a lot of work to do to get to the level that I think they are capable of playing. Fulton will be a good next test for us.”

The Maroons hosted South Kamloops in the front-end of a Friday Night Lights doubleheader at GVAP, and dropped a 42-21 decision to the Titans.

The teams were tied 14-14 at halftime with the visitors scoring a pair of late touchdowns to seal the exhibition victory.

Despite the score I was happy with the result,” said Fulton head coach Mike Scheller. “They were deserving of the win. In the end our kids played their guts out and were overpowered by a bigger and older squad. The size difference on the line of scrimmage was very noticeable, but we showed a lot of fight. It was good effort from our kids on both sides of the ball.”

Quarterback Brad Scabar threw touchdown passes of two yards to Griff Morrier and Dani Gonzalez, while Jeremy Peterson ran back an inception 73 yards for the other Fulton major. Jentezen Peterson booted three converts and carried the ball 17 times for 90 yards.

On the other side of the ball, Morrier had 11 tackles, Leon Defauw added six and Gonzalez had four.

“Morrier was a standout at fullback and linebacker for us,” said Scheller. “He was our best player tonight. Dani Gonzalez at strong safety was very good tonight, defending the pass and stepping up in run support. Leon Defauw was also very strong at linebacker, and he blocked very hard at right tackle. Defensively, coach Bryan Cragg called a good game.

“Our O-line played well. Tackle Nich Newman and guard Brett O’Dwyer played a lot of minutes and fought hard against a much bigger South Kam D-line. Jenny Peterson ran the ball hard and Scabar made smart decisions.”

The all-Vernon matchup Oct. 7 features the Panthers as home team, and they will wear their all-white uniforms. The team is asking VSS fans to wear white to GVAP to form a ‘white-out’ in the stands.

JUNIOR VARSITY

The North Okanagan’s three JV programs went 0-3 in regular-season play.

The Rutland Voodoos edged the Vernon Panthers 28-22. Okanagan Mission Huskies of Kelowna blanked Fulton 14-0. And the South Kamloops Titans whipped Armstrong’s Pleasant Valley Hawks 49-7.

The Panthers entertain the Salmon Arm Golds Wednesday, Oct. 5, at GVAP, while the Maroons will host PVSS Thursday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m. at Grahame Park.

READ MORE: Vernon Panthers, Fulton Maroons post pre-season Ws

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Vernon scores fantastic Football Day

FootballHigh school sportsNorth Okanagan Regional DistrictVernon

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