The first weekend of the high school football season around the North Okanagan has come and gone, with two Vernon teams racking up impressive victories.
The VSS Panthers got their season started with a 48-0 throttling of the visiting Okanagan Mission Huskies from Kelowna.
On their opening drive of the game, Ayden McDonald capped off a nine play, 80-yard drive by running it in from three yards out to give the Cats an early seven-point lead. On their second drive of the game, quarterback Cole Budgen found Jonah Lee on a five-yard strike that Lee turned into a 34-yard touchdown to double the home team’s lead.
The only other scoring of the half came on a bobbled punt with McDonald pouncing on the OKM fumble in their end zone.
“I thought our first two drives of the game were outstanding. I liked how efficient we were, spreading the ball around and taking what they gave us, without hitting one over the top” said Panthers head coach Sean Smith.
The second half saw the Panthers continue to shut down OKM’s offence holding them to negative yards rushing in the game and a mere 64 yards of total offence.
Defensively, Anderson Bicknell was the leading tackler (four) and had two interceptions, including a pick six that was returned 50 yards for a major.
The Panthers are 1-0 in league play and 3-1 overall on the season. After dropping their season opening exhibition contest 22-16 to Rutland, the Cats bounced back beating perennial AAA power Mount Douglas (Victoria) 32-0 and Langley 35-19.
The Panthers now sit second in the AA provincial school rankings, behind Robert Bateman Secondary in Abbotsford.
Go Panthers!! pic.twitter.com/OrzSukRv3N— Vernon Panthers Football (@Football_VSS) September 26, 2023
The Fulton Maroons, also competing in AA football, shut out the Salmon Arm Golds 18-0 in their home opener.
Fulton got a touchdown from do-it-all athlete Jeremy Peterson, who scampered in for an 11-yard score. Peterson also kicked two field goals for the Maroons, from 18 and 29 yards out.
Nigel List found the end zone on a 23-yard interception return. He added another pick later in the game to cap off an impressive opening game for Fulton.
Finally, in their first ever high school senior varsity football game, Armstrong’s Pleasant Valley Hawks got rolled by the Westysde Blue Wave out of Kamloops, 63-0.
The Hawks will play the Panthers next on Friday, Sept. 29, 4 p.m., at the Greater Vernon Athletic Park.
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