Vernon Panthers literally picked their way back into the high school football win column.
After suffering their first league loss in a decade last week, the Panthers rolled into Kelowna’s Apple Bowl Friday, Oct. 22, with three, two-way (offence and defence) starters unable to play, and came out with a 14-0 win over the Okanagan Mission Huskies.
The Cats’ defence had four interceptions from Mats Friesen, Enrique Segal, Justin Ruscheinsky and Joe Murphy. Reid and Murphy had four tackles apiece.
‘We needed a spark in the second half and our defence gave it to us with three interceptions,” said Panthers head coach Sean Smith. “I was happy to see Mats Friesen get a pick that really got us going. Enrique Segal had a great game for us on defence with an interception and three tackles.
After a scoreless first half, quarterback Brayden Khunkhun hit Roan Reid on a 28-yard pass for a major, and Murphy would Vernon up by two scores when he ran in from 14 yards out.
The Panthers have a bye this week and will close out the regular season Friday, Nov. 5, against the Rutland Voodoos at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.
“We still have a lot of work to do but this was a gritty win under some tough circumstances,” said Smith. e had three, two-way starters who were not able to suit up and it tested our depth and playmaking ability .
“I thought Brayden Khunkhun did a great job coming in cold to drive us down the field twice in the second half. Joe Murphy had some good runs with minimal practice time at the position. We weren’t pretty but we got the job done.”
Vernon and the South Kamloops Titans lead the AA portion of the Okanagan AA/AAA Hybrid Division at 2-1, but the Titans’ 7-6 win over the Panthers gives them the tiebreaker if they’re still deadlocked at season’s end. The Voodoos are 3-0 and lead the AAA Division.