Vernon Panthers quarterback Zack Smith leaps past a couple of Langley Saints defenders during the Subway Bowl B.C. High School Senior Varsity AA Football final Saturday, Nov. 30, at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver. (Bernie Crump photo)

Vernon Panthers romp to second straight AA BC football crown

Panthers capture second BC title in as many years by rolling the Langley Saints 43-14

Dominant. Dazzling. Dynasty.

The Vernon Panthers won their second consecutive Subway Bowl B.C. High School Senior Varsity Football championship at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver last Saturday, Nov. 30, scoring 30 unanswered points for a convincing 43-14 win over the Langley Saints.

The win capped off a second straight undefeated AA season for the Panthers, who took on all comers and went 10-0 in 2019, outscoring the opposition 381-42.

In their three playoff games, VSS outscored their foes 135-20.

Their last loss to a AA opponent was the 2017 B.C. semifinal at the dome in the final minute to the Abbotsford Panthers.

“I’m so proud of this group and how they were able to execute our game plan on both sides of the ball to perfection,” said Vernon coach Sean Smith.

“This was a total team effort to beat a very big and physical Langley team.

“We had five players catch passes and six players with four or more tackles which are good indicators of a balanced team.

“What a way for this group of Grade 12s to finish their high school careers.

“They will go down as not only the most successful cohort in Vernon Panthers history, but maybe in BC high school football history.

“As a group, they won three provincial championships in a row (Grades 10, 11 and 12) and lost a total of two games in their four years of playing together.

“It was a pleasure to lead this group of graduating seniors…

“They will be missed.”

READ MORE: Charles Lemay’s five TDs propel Vernon to B.C. title

The Cats opened the scoring in the first quarter when Game MVP and BC AA Player of the Year Vernon quarterback Zack Smith, playing in his final high school game, connected with fellow Grade 12 receiver Trent Charlton on a 35-yard score.

Langley equalized on a 74-yard run from scrimmage by running back Kai Smith.

The Panthers took the lead in the second quarter when Smith again hit Charlton for a major, this one from two yards out.

The play set up nicely by a 73-yard catch-and-run from Smith to receiver Caden Danbrook, also playing his final game for the Cats.

Vernon’s extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the Panthers with a 13-7 lead.

The Saints tied the game with a two-yard run from back Harshaad Jouhal, to take a 14-13 lead with the extra point.

Late in the first half, Smith called his own number from the 10-yard line and scored on a quarterback draw.

The two-point convert attempt was no good, leaving Vernon with a 19-14 lead.

Kicker Liam Reid increased the Cats lead to 22-14 at the half with a 33-yard field goal with 19 seconds left.

Late in the third quarter, the Saints were driving in Vernon territory when Danbrook caused a fumble, which was recovered by the Panthers’ Daniel Lesik.

Smith marched VSS down the field and, early in the fourth quarter, he again hit Charlton for the third time in the game in the end zone, giving the Panthers a 29-14 advantage after Reid booted the convert.

The Panthers defence came through again, recovering a bobbled Saints snap at Langley’s 22. Smith called his own number a few plays later, running it in from 10 yards out, and a successful two-point convert gave the Panthers a 35-14 lead with 10 minutes to go.

Smith added the cherry on top of a magnificent season for him and the team by scoring his third touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter, and the two-point convert made it 43-14 Panthers.

“Vernon was who we thought they were,” said Saints coach Ryk Piche, referring to a well-organized team with a specific game plan.

“We were concerned about whether we could stand up to the physical nature of Langley’s offence considering we were giving up a lot of size at every position,” added Smith.

“However, my guys proved (once again) that preparation, technique, speed and intensity more than makes up for lack of size…I thought we wore them out and were able to pound the ball on them in the fourth quarter.

‘Zack had a monster game for us and was unstoppable. He had 417 yards of offence (163 yards rushing and 254 yards passing) and six touchdowns (three rushing and three passing). Caden had two outstanding catches, including a 43-yarder on the first offensive play of the game.

“Trent Charlton had three touchdown receptions and Grade 11 Tristan Masini Pierelli led the team in tackles for the first time all year with 10.”

Danbrook finished with 127 yards receiving and 15 yards rushing on five touches.

He was named the game’s Top Back. Charlton had 48 yards through the air while Johnathan Bielski and Will Satterthwaite each snagged three passes from Smith.

Brady Szeman was named the game’s Top Offensive Lineman.

Coach Smith has won three provincial titles while doing double-duty with the junior and senior varsity teams, and has built the Panthers football program into one of the most respected in B.C.

Asked about his future, the coach was reflective. “I have loved doing it and can’t see myself doing anything else in the fall until I retire. However, I will be taking some time now that the season is done to figure out what’s best for Panther football and myself.”

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Vernon Panthers receiver Caden Danbrook hauls in a pass from quarterback Zack Smith over a Langley Saints defender during the Subway Bowl B.C. High School Senior Varsity AA Football final Saturday, Nov. 30, at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver. (Bernie Crump photo)

Vernon Panthers quarterback Zack Smith gets into the corner of the end zone past two Langley Saints defenders during the Subway Bowl B.C. AA High School Senior Varsity Football final Saturday, Nov. 30, at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver. Smith ran for three majors and threw three more as the Cats won their second straight B.C. title, 43-14. (Bernie Crump photo)

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