Morning Star Staff
The Kelowna Owls scored on their first possession and cruised to a 37-6 lopsided win over the Vernon Panthers in high school senior football action Friday night at the Kelowna Apple Bowl.
Two-sport star (quarterback) Parker Simpson stole the show, throwing three touchdown passes and running in another two, including a 65-yarder).
“Their quarterback was the difference,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith. “He is so dangerous with his feet and delivered enough accurate passes to keep us honest in the secondary. There were five, six times in the game I thought we had him in the backfield, but his athleticism allowed him to escape. Once he’s in the open field, he is very tough to bring down.”
The Owls led 23-0 at the half and added two second-half touchdown passes. The Panthers, using their third quarterback in two weeks, struggled on offence early on.
A combination of bad snaps and execution miscues led to a sloppy, penalty-filled first half.
“We were constantly fighting situations where we had 15-plus yards to go for a first down and that made it tough on our offence.”
Panther Pivot Levi Nicholas, getting his first high school start, went 9-for- 18 for 81 yards through the air and added another 51 (and a touchdown) on the ground.
Tight end Josh Hyer led all receivers, hauling in four receptions for 35 yards.
Defensively, the Cats were led by Grade 11 standout Ben Hladik’s 7 tackles and one sack.
“Ben and Josh (defensive ends) were outstanding for us all game. They were given the tough task of containing a very athletic quarterback and graded out very well. Ben made a few tackles that very few kids in the province are able to make.”
Senior cornerback Zach Hyer stood out in the secondary, picking off a Simpson deep ball to prevent another Owl score.
“Despite the lopsided score, we had some great individual performances on both sides of the ball. We have a roster that has a lot of inexperienced kids, mixed with some players that are potential provincial all-stars. I think we’ll be OK by the time the regular season rolls around.”
The Panthers host the AAA Rutland Voodoos in exhibition play Friday at Vernon Secondary. Kick off is 3:30 p.m.