The VSS Panthers placed a league-high nine players on the Interior Senior AA Football Conference all-star team.
The Cats allowed a miniscule six points per game which led to four players being recognized on that side of the ball. Grade 9 standout Ben Hladik and Chase Larsen (Grade 11) made the squad as defensive ends, while safety John Garvie (Grade 11) and cornerback Zach Hyer (Grade 10) were recognized for their work in the secondary.
“Our defence was stout all year long allowing a maximum of one touchdown per game through our first 10 games,” said Panther head coach Sean Smith.
On the offensive side, seniors Jaxon Toth (left tackle) and Dylan Cleland (centre) joined Andy Hladik (tight end) as the three Grade 12 all-stars.
Karson Patommel was named as an all-star tailback as well as being named the Top Grade 11 player. Tailback Zac Kronbauer (Grade 11) captured the Top Offensive Player in the league.
“This team had a lot of great athletes,” said Smith. “However, every one of these guys also had work ethic that went along with it. They all pushed each other in practice which raised the level of the team. The encouraging part is that we are only losing three of our nine all-stars, which bodes well for the future of Panther football.”
Further recognition was also given to both Toth and Patommel at the provincial level. Toth was voted a top offensive lineman in B.C. and Patommel was named one of the Top AA Grade 11 players.
“Being named to the provincial team is a huge honour for those two players. It’s tough for our guys to get the respect of Lower Mainland coaches, so for them both to make the team is a big deal.”
Toth, who turns 17 in early December, was highly effective as a 6-foot-3, 220-pound left tackle.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Toth. “I guess I made some good blocks and was pretty consistent. We had an undefeated season until the playoffs and it would have been nice to go further.”
Toth, who cheers for the B.C. Lions and New England Patriots, is unsure of his football future.
“Whatever happens,” he said.
Patommel, who will be 16 in February, transferred to the Panther Pit from Kalamalka Secondary in the fall.
“It’s pretty important,” said the 6-foot-3, 200-pound power runner. “It’s good to know I’m competing against the province’s best, not just in our conference.”
Patommel, who also played outside linebacker, supports the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants. A box and field lacrosse player who also mountain bikes, he likes the Green Riders by 20 in Sunday’s 101st Grey Cup.