On paper, it was a dream matchup. In reality, it was a wash as the Vernon Panthers pounded the Duchess Park Condors of Prince George 38-0 Friday night in Kamloops.
The win earned VSS the No. 1 seed for the Interior/North Senior AA Boys Football Conference heading into provincial playdowns.
Duchess Park entered the tilt with a plus-148 point differential and a 5-0 record coming out of the North. The Panthers, also 5-0, were plus-174 as the Interior’s top team.
Zac Kronbauer opened the scoring on the game’s first drive, booting a field goal from 33 yards. On the ensuing possession, Duchess came up short on a fourth-and-inches gamble, and 14 plays later, quarterback John Garvie (9-14, 144 yards) hit Karson Patommel for the first of two touchdown passes to put the Panthers up by 10.
After moving the ball into Panther territory in the second quarter, the Condors again elected to gamble on a fourth-and-short. A barrage of Vernon players sacked quarterback Jacob Cundy for a loss, and swayed the momentum in the Panthers’ direction for good.
Garvie hit Kronbauer for a short gain, and then unleashed a 45-yard bomb to receiver Levi Nicholas to put the Panthers in the red zone. Patommel finished the drive from seven yards out.
But Patommel wasn’t done. With 50 seconds to play in the half, he collected his second rushing score from 35 yards, and on the final play of the half, he intercepted an errant pass and returned it 53 yards.
Vernon led 31-0 at the break.
“This was definitely our best all-around effort as a team,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith. “Our defence, once again, did a great job which gave us good field position all game. They are a big strong team with an o-line that can move people, but our d-line and linebackers responded well.
“On offence, I was pleased with the progress of our passing game. We made good decisions and were able to mix it up. Lots of guys made plays today and that’s why we were successful.”
Kronbauer hauled in a 12-yard reception in third quarter to cap the scoring.
The Panthers, ranked No. 2 in the province, will host the Argyle Pipers from North Vancouver in opening-round action Friday at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops. The Pipers are the No. 4 seed in the West Division, and Smith is not underestimating them.
“They beat the No. 1 team in the province less than a month ago and have a very solid team in all three phases of the game,” he said. “Unfortunately, we drew a No. 4 seed that could very easily be a No. 1 in most conferences, so we will be in for a fight right out of the gates.
“Argyle has had a tough league schedule, playing Carson Graham, Ballenas and Barsby, who are all currently ranked in the top-five teams in B.C., so they are well tested.”
Meanwhile, the Fulton Maroons capped their Okanagan junior varsity season by stuffing the host Westsyde Blue Wave 54-21 Wednesday afternoon in Kamloops.
Quarterback Ike Olson threw for 142 yards (5-of-9) and a trio of touchdown passes, two to Koalden Gudeit (33 yards, five yards) and an 86-yarder to Kyle Karens.
Satchel McDermid reached the end zone from seven and 69 yards, Caden Doyle recorded a 36-yard TD run and an 81-yard kickoff return, and Nate Banga ran a fumble recovery back seven yards for Fulton’s other score.
Leading 34-15 at halftime, Fulton head coach Mike Scheller got his entire bench in the game.
“Everyone got lots of playing time and the boys had a fun game to end their season,” said Scheller. “We will credit Westysde for their attitude and competitiveness. They are small and young, but play tough.
“I would like to commend Olson, Doyle, Cole Hunter, Quinn Miller, Hunter Krieger and Andrew Goldenthal on exceptional seasons.”
Doyle paced Fulton’s defence with four tackles, while Goldenthal and Yano Jansens each delivered three. Cole Hunter had a fumble recovery.
“This was a very good group of kids to work with,” said Scheller. “These guys had to supplement our senior roster all season and they played a ton of football.
“We need a few more pieces but will be strong in the future.”
Scheller thanked assistant coaches Darryl Thomas, Dale Olson, Bryan Bateman, Kevin Stecyk and Bryann Cragg for their exceptional volunteer hours.