Run some, pass some will be tops in the Vernon Panthers’ playbook Saturday morning at Greater Vernon Athletics Park.
The Panthers go up against the Ballenas Whalers of Parksville in B.C. Senior AA Varsity Football League quarterfinal play. Kickoff is 11 a.m. and a huge crowd is expected.
“On offence we will have to be balanced if we want to compete in this game,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith. “We’ve got the talent to win but will have to bring our ‘A’ game from the opening snap.”
The Cats are ranked No. 1 in the province, the Whalers No. 5. Heading the list of VSS all-stars is Defensive Player of the Year Ben Hladik, who claimed the same title in 2015 as a Grade 11. Ben’s brother, Bradley Hladik, took the Top Grade 11 Defensive Player following a superb season at cornerback.
Other Cats chosen to the all-star team were: Dawson Horvath (linebacker), Josh Hyer (defensive end), Tyler Riva (D tackle), Riley Bos (tailback) and Joel Vandeleest (offensive line).
VSS went 4-0 in the Interior Conference and 7-0 overall. They scored 155 points and gave up just 22. They earned a first-round playoff bye.
The Panthers’ signature win was a 26-14 beauty over the John Barsby Bulldogs in Nanaimo in Week 2.
The Whalers, under head coach Dan Smith, went 4-2 in the Western Conference and 5-3 overall. Ballenas rang up 176 points and allowed 137.
They stopped the Holy Cross Crusaders of Surrey 16-6 in the opening round of playoffs. Ballanes surprised the No. 1 Western-seeded Hugh Boyd Trojans of Richmond 68-42 in October, scoring on every drive.
“Ballenas is a well coached, disciplined football squad that is a perennial top-five team in B.C. football,” said Smith. “Their ground game might be second to none and their diversity of formations makes it difficult to defend. Their quarterback (Ben Robinson) is very fast and if we fail to contain him on Saturday, we will be in for a long afternoon.
“However, their offensive line might be their strength. They are huge up front and can move pretty good for their size. They do a lot of pulling and trapping which means our ends and linebackers will have to take them on to hold the line of scrimmage. “
TALE OF THE TAPE
Vernon – Thomas Hyett 74-of-26 for 1,216 yds (13 TDS, 6 INTs).
Ballenas – Ben Robinson 34-of-73 for 881 yds (7 TDS, 2 INTS).
Vernon -Riley Bos 99 rushes for 522 yds – 5 TDS.
Ballenas – Dayton Coles 115 rushes for 832 yds – 6 TDS
Vernon – Ben Hladik 29 catches for 539 yds – 9 TDS.
Ballenas – Liviano Canil 16 catches for 329 yds – 4 TDS.