The Vernon Panthers and Fulton Maroons appear primed for their annual crosstown Friday Night Lights high school football game at Greater Vernon Athletics Park (GVAP).
The Panthers ambushed the Westsyde Blue Wave of Kamloops 42-0, while the Maroons iced the Salmon Arm Golds 14-7 in Interior Senior AA Varsity Football League action Friday night at the college turf. They meet this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
VSS has proven that they can win through the air. Against the Blue Wave, on a night where strong winds blew through GVAP, the Panthers showed that they can also win a battle in the trenches.
Workhorse tailback Charles Lemay carried the ball 15 times for 245 yards, five of which went for 20-plus yards. Lemay counted four rushing touchdowns, his longest a 55-yard romp.
“Our O-line did a great job moving bodies up front today; they played with confidence that we could get behind them and get large chunks of real estate,” said Panther head coach Sean Smith. “Liam Alder, Mark Delasen, Brady Szeman, Jackson Thomas and Nathan Vasconcelos were our MVPs today. Of course, Charles did his part as well. I told them before the game that we were going to have to get our big boy pants on today ….with the winds affecting the passing game and Westsyde having a big fullback and talented tailback we knew that it was going to be physical. I was very happy with how we responded to that type of game on both sides of the ball.”
The Panthers scored on all four first-half possessions and limited the Blue Wave to two first downs to take a 27-0 lead. Drew Mackenzie (seven yards) and Caden Danbrook (25 yards) hauled in touchdown receptions. Quarterback Thomas Hyett completed 5-of-11 passes for 88 yards (2 touchdowns).
The Panthers added two majors in the second half to extend the lead to 42-0 in running time. Defensively, newcomer AJ Maher led all players with five tackles, while Lemay, Danbrook and Trey Defoor contributed four.
“This was another good test for our defence to see how we could stack up against a power team,” said Smith. “I thought our D-line and linebackers passed with flying colours.”
The Panthers (3-0 league, 6-1 overall) will close the regular season against Fulton.
“This is always a game our guys look forward to,” said Smith. “Fulton is always well prepared to play us and there’s a lot at stake with the winner getting a first-round bye in the playoffs. We expect a big crowd for both teams so the atmosphere should be great.”
Fulton QB Evan Trottier hooked up with Nate Foster (24 yards) and Ethan Schiman (10 yards) for touchdown receptions. Trottier booted two converts.
Quin Williamson posted eight touches for 60 yards, while Dayton Ingenhaag carried the ball nine times for 59 yards and Trottier racked up 42 yards on seven touches.
Liam Gombrich produced eight tackles, while Carson Harrower had seven and Williamson and Ingenhaag each contributed four. Gombrich pocketed one fumble recovery.
“This was a dogfight for us,” said Maroons head coach Mike Scheller. “We seem to have a knack for playing close games. We had a bad first half; we were flat on offence and defence and Salmon Arm took an early lead. Defensively, we played better in the second quarter and it kind of gave us some momentum on all sides of the ball. We came out running the ball in the third quarter and that changed the game for us. Williamson and Ingenhaag were big contributors in the run game and the O-line blocked hard. The big boys up front took over and we got control of the contest.”
Scheller gave props to Trottier for throwing some clutch passes, and Foster, for his score.
“It was great to see Nate Foster get into the end zone. He works his tail off in practice and is deserving of his first TD. Defensively, we played great again. We have allowed one TD or less in five straight games. Defensive coaches Ethan Schulz and Bryan Cragg are going a very good job on that side of the ball. The defence gave the rest of the team momentum. DL Liam Gombrich was great for us inside. He is very tough to block. DE Carson Harrower had his motor running at DE and had six tackles. Linebackers Quinn Williamson and Dayton Ingenhaag were awesome, recording seven tackles each.”
Scheller said the Maroons will be extra stoked in practice this week.
“This is a huge week for us with the battle of Vernon Friday night. VSS is one of the premier programs in B.C. and we have our work cut out for us.”
Fulton is 4-4 overall and 2-1 in league play.