Vernon Panthers’ Jeff Hiscoe (from left)

Vernon Panthers’ Jeff Hiscoe (from left)

Vernon Panthers pocket all-star awards

Vernon Panthers recognized for solid playoff performances.

Smart and athletic, Zac Kronbauer is chasing a future in football and either the medical or engineering field.

A two-sport star at VSS, Kronbauer guided the Panthers to the Subway Bowl high school varsity AA semifinal in Vancouver. The down-to-earth Grade 12 student won a $1,000 Subway Academic Team scholarship while being named Offensive Player of the Year at the provincial awards banquet.

“I don’t exactly know what school I’m going to yet, but I’ll definitely put it (scholarship cash) towards school,” said Kronbauer, who turns 18 in January.

“I’m looking at UBC, University of Calgary, McMaster (Hamilton), just anywhere I can play football. They watched some of our games and coach (Keith) Johnston talked to McMaster for me.”

Kronbauer earlier was selected the Okanagan Conference Offensive MVP as the Panthers went 5-0 before falling 34-16 in a snowy semi to the John Barsby Bulldogs of Nanaimo.

VSS head coach Sean Smith believes Kronbauer can smoothly transfer to the collegiate level because he brings so many different skills.

“Zac played slot for us, he plays running back, he plays wide receiver, he kicks and he plays special teams, he does everything,” said Smith. “So, there are a lot of different positions he could fit in at the next level.”

Kronbauer, a starter with the senior basketball team, is a Saskatchewan Roughrider fan. He used to cheer hard for running back Kory Sheets, but when Sheets bolted for the NFL, Zac switched to supporting slotback Weston Dressler. He mixes sports and school well.

“Zac’s a balanced guy,” said Smith. “He won the Academic Athlete of the Year last year for the North Okanagan so he’s taking a tough course load of sciences and maths and he has 90-plus per cent in everyone of them so he knows he has to do well in school, first. He puts a lot of time here. He’s in the weight room every day at quarter to seven in the morning so he knows what it takes.”

Most of the football Panthers have been playing together since Grades 9 and 10. The additions of players like Carson Labrecque, a Winfield product who played city football in Vernon, and Karson Patommel, who joined VSS from the Kalamalka Lakers, added serious depth to the roster.

Labrecque and Patommel, both linebackers, joined Kronbauer, offensive lineman Jeff Hiscoe and defensive back John Garvie on the provincial all-star roster. Patommel was earlier chosen the Okanagan’s Top Defensive Player.

“Out of the 22 spots, we got five of them,” said Smith. “When you take into account how many teams there are in the province, we were quite fortunate.”

He notes that all the VSS all-stars went the extra mile to be the best they could.

“That kind of goes part and parcel with it. If you wanna be recognized as a provincial all-star, you gotta do all the stuff that it takes to get there. There are a few guys who are natural athletes and don’t have to work at it, but for most of us, that’s not the case. All those kids, from last spring when our season ended, were in the weight room doing what it takes.”

Kronbauer says the all-star selections solidify the Panthers as a powerhouse.

“It’s super crucial for our program. It’s nice to be recognized because we did pretty good in the province.”

Kronbauer gave major props to Smith, a huge Seahawk supporter who was trying to give Vernon its first-ever B.C. football title.

“Coach Smith has been absolutely awesome through everything. He’s the most committed coach I’ve ever had. He’s always watching game film. He tells us about his 20-hour nights, all the flash cards he makes of the other teams’ plays. It’s crazy how much he does for us. We’re prepared every week.”