B.C.’s top-ranked high school senior varsity AA football team moved a step closer to clinching the Interior Conference title.
The Vernon Panthers convincingly blanked the visiting South Kamloops Titans 27-0 in a battle of undefeated teams entering Friday’s game at Greater Vernon Athletics Park.
The Panthers improve to 2-0 atop the conference, while the Titans drop to 2-1.
Quarterback/defensive back Zack Smith again led the Cats on both sides of the ball, rushing 12 times for 117 yards to go along with 85 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air. Smith had six solo tackles and two interceptions on defence.
The Panthers got on the scoreboard first in an unlikely fashion. Following a botched pitch play, Caden Danbrook bobbled the ball into the end zone where he was later able to recover it. On their ensuing possession, Trent Charlton (two catches – 32 yards) was able to haul in the first of his two touchdowns in the second quarter following a 25-yard reception in the end zone.
“South Kam came out very aggressive on defence and we had to earn every yard we got,” VSS head coach Sean Smith said. “We knew we’d see a lot of man coverage and our playmakers would have to make plays. Fortunately, they did their job.”
The Cats’ defence stuffed the Titans in the first half, giving up a mere 46 yards over the first 24 minutes of play.
“We were missing the heart of our defence and starting tailback Matthew Reich,” said Smith. “His absence was not going to be made up by one player alone, but rather by everyone combining to pick up the slack. I thought our guys did a great job of stuffing the run despite missing Matthew. We had six players with four-plus tackles – Brady Szeman (6), Zack Smith (6), Liam Reid (5) ,Jaret Cooper (4), Trent Charlton (4) and Daniel Lesik (4) – who all stepped up for us.”
Grade 11 Ethan Greenan was outstanding running the ball for 51 tough yards on 12 carries against a stout defence.
The second half saw the Panthers get their fourth major of the game on their opening possession with Grade 10 Roan Reid on the receiving end of his first senior touchdown grab.
“I was really happy to see all the hard work Roan has put in this off-season pay off tonight,” Smith said. “He has really bought in to what being a Panther football player entails. He watches film, works out regularly and has learned our schemes so that he can play at the senior level. We put him in some new roles tonight and he responded like a Grade 12.” Despite amassing 138 yards on the ground in the final two quarters, South Kam was unable to get on the scoreboard.
“They came out with a fast pace and were determined to run the ball on us after half time,” Smith said. We got worn out and pushed around a bit, but I was happy that we were able to bend but not break when they got into our territory.”
The Panthers (2-0 conference, 5-0 overall) visit the Okanagan Mission Huskies at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl Friday night. The Huskies improved to 1-1 with a 36-35 win over the Salmon Arm Golds (0-3).
Fulton Maroons (1-1), on their bye week, lost 20-19 to the West Vancouver Highlanders in an exhibition game in the Lower Mainland. The Maroons led 19-0 going into the fourth quarter.
“We gave the game away. They gained momentum and we sagged a bit,” Fulton head coach Mike Scheller said. “We had opportunities on offence and defence to seal the victory, but we did not. It was a game we should have won.”
Rey Siddique, on a 30-yard run, Dylan Wapple, on a one-yard plunge, and Hayden Catt, on a 16-yard reception from quarterback Dom Peterson, scored touchdowns for Fulton. Wapple had 100-plus yards total offence, picking up 27 yards on eight carries and caught five passes for 82 yards.
“The weather was a factor in the game for both teams,” Scheller said. “The field was very wet and was tough to get traction for both teams. We treated this game like the exhibition game it was and we gave all our kids a lot of playing time. We had some backups who stepped up and played well for us in the game.”
Scheller singled out Mo Salgado and Griff Morrier for solid games on the offensive line for us. Catt had a very good game at rec. he is taking screens and turning out positive yards. Fellow rec. karan malhotra does a very good job blocking for us. Wapple has his best game of the year and ran hard.
Defensively, defensive backs luiz hosken and rhedz lovena had solid games for us. Luiz casemiro and van kozak were very good on the def. line. Our defence played quite well into the 4th quarter.
The Maroons visit the Golds Friday.