In leading the Vernon Panthers to a 56-6 B.C. High School Senior Varsity AA Football Conference quarterfinal win over North Vancouver’s Windsor Dukes, quarterback Zack Smith rushed for more than 200 yards and threw a pair of 40-plus yard touchdowns.
After the game, longtime Panthers fans told VSS head coach — and Zack’s father—Sean Smith it was the best game of Zack’s career.
“I thought he played great, but I’ve become so accustomed to what he does that it didn’t phase me,” said coach Smith.
“He will go down as one of the best (if not the best) player to suit up in a Panther jersey. We’ve had a great run together since he suited up in minor football at a young age.
”It’s going to be sad to see it come to an end soon.”
On Monday, Zack Smith was named the Most Valuable Player of the B.C. AA ranks, and four teammates were named provincial all-stars, as the defending provincial and undefeated Panthers prepare for Saturday’s semifinal date with the Ballenas Whalers of Parksville at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver Kick off is at noon.
Smith is the third Panther in the last four years to be named provincial MVP (Ben Hladik, 2016; Charles Lemay, 2018).
In an eight-game season, Zack led the province in passing yards (1,286) and touchdown passes (20) and only threw one interception.
He was second in the province in rushing (859 yds) and added seven rushing TDs.
He also led the province in interceptions with seven, playing defensive back when the Cats didn’t have the ball.
“Zack seems to elevate his play as the stakes get higher,” said his father.
“Last year, with Thomas (Hyett) as quarterback, we had to move him to receiver so he didn’t get a lot of work throwing in game situations.
“Fortunately, he picked up where he left off as MVP in his Grade 10 year (leading Vernon to the B.C. Junior Varsity title with a win over Ballenas in the final, the first non-Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island team to win the provincial junior championship).”
Named provincial all-stars were Caden Danbrook at wide receiver; offensive lineman Brady Szeman; Liam Reid, the Interior Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, was selected at defensive line; and defensive back Trent Charlton.
“These guys have been dedicated Panthers for many years,” said Sean Smith. “Our junior and senior teams have had a lot of success because of their commitment to being the best players they can be.
“I can’t say enough about what they’ve meant to our program and to our younger players who see their dedication to the sport year round. They are all truly deserving of the recognition they are getting.”
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