With temperatures dipping below minus-15 with the wind chill, it took the Vernon Panthers a while to warm up.
Once they did, they collected three straight touchdowns to open the second quarter en route to a 35-0 stuffing of the Argyle Pipers of North Vancouver to start the B.C. Senior AA Boys Football Championships Friday night at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops.
Tailback Levi Nicholas opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run to break the ice, and John Garvie followed that with a one-yard QB sneak for the second major.
Three minutes later, Zac Kronbauer walked in from a yard out on a toss play, putting the Panthers up 21-0 at the half.
“We got pushed around a bit at the start and had a lot of penalty yards to open the game,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith. “They came at us hard the first two drives, but our defence held and got some timely turnovers when we needed them.
“The wind was blowing sideways and we knew it was going to be tough to pass, so we put this game on our o-line and defence and both units came up big again today.”
Nicholas led the Panthers with six tackles, Karson Patommel had five and an interception and linebacker Carson Labreque added four and a pick.
In the second half, Patommel bounced a dive play outside to score from 47 yards, finishing the day with 116 yards on 13 carries. Garvie closed out the scoring with a 35-yard QB draw.
The Panthers, now ranked the No. 1 team in B.C. for the first time in school history, meet the Abbotsford Panthers in the quarterfinals, Friday, 4 p.m., at Hillside.
“We know this team well,” said Smith. “These same boys dropped a close-heartbreaking game to them in the junior provincial semifinals two seasons ago.
“We know Abby can play and we’re going to have to bring our A-game if we want to advance. Hopefully we can keep the run going.”