The Vernon Panthers opened Okanagan Senior Varsity High School Football League play with a convincing 49-7 win over the visiting Salmon Arm Golds Friday at Greater Vernon Athletics Park.
Zack Smith continued to light up opposing defences, accounting for seven total touchdowns. Through the air, he completed passes to six different receivers, going 20 of 24 for 235 yards and five touchdowns. His favourite target, Caden Danbrook, was on the receiving end of two of the touchdowns (40 and 21 yards each) and registered six6 catches for 107 yards.
Grade 11 tailback Ethan Greenan also hauled in two TDs while Trent Charlton had one. On the ground, Smith had six rushes for 64 yards, including a touchdown. However, he was outdone by Greenan, who totalled 85 yards filling in for starting tailback Matthew Reich.
“We moved the ball pretty well today and were very accurate in our passing game,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith. “Zack was on fire and our receivers were able to get separation today. However, we still had a lot of mental mistakes (penalties) that cost us. If we don’t clean that up soon, it is going to cost us a win.
“I was really happy for Greenan. It was his birthday and he was able to get two touchdowns and a pick.”
The Panthers continued to limit opposing offences despite giving up a late touchdown. Zack Smith led the defence with two interceptions including a 90-yard pick-six while Liam Reid, Johnathan Bielski and Matthew Reich tied for the lead in tackles with three apiece.
The Panthers get a week off before hosting the South Kamloops Titans Friday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m. at GVAP. The Titans won their league opener, 28-6, over the visiting Fulton Maroons.
Fulton, been blanked in its last two exhibitions, received a 34-yard touchdown from Van Kozak on a pass from quarterback Dom Peterson, who finished 13 of 24 for 100 yards, the major and one interception.
Jordan Wapple had 14 carries for 42 yards, and added 22 more yards on four catches, while Karan Malhotra picked up 23 yards on two carries. Colby Eisenhauer had four catches for 32 yards and Hayden Catt added three for 11 yards.
South Kam led 14-6 at the intermission.
“Tough loss for our kids,” said Fulton head coach Mike Scheller. “In the end South Kam was the better team. They were more physical in the trenches and faster on the perimeter. They were full credit for the win. Our kids played hard, but SKSS was a little better physically.
“Our defence needs to get off the field on third and long. We let too many teams off the hook. Offensively, we have to be way more consistent moving the ball. Too many three-and-outs to help out our defence. We drop balls and miss easy throws which affect our ability to move the ball.”
Quaid Willett led the Maroons’ defence with nine tackles while Ethan Schiman and Dayton Ingenhaag added six each. Kozak and Willett recorded sacks.
“Ethan Schiman at centre and linebacker was a stud for us tonight,” said Scheller. “He played his guts out for us. Rey Siddique was also very good for us. He blocked hard at slot and was good at SS. Seth Pallister has some good returns on special teams.”
The Maroons will entertain Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission Huskies (bye week, 0-0) Friday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. at GVAP.