Whalers vs. Wolves

The win was nice but it’s back to business for Ballenas Secondary School’s varsity football team.

The blue and white punched their ticket to today’s BC High School AA Football quarterfinal game at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium on the strength of a 63-35 shoot-out win over the Seaquam Seahawks.

The win, a Friday Night Lights affair played out at Merle Logan Field in Nanaimo Nov. 9, said BSS head coach Jeremy Conn, “was electric.”

“Our offence played great,” Conn said after, “but I had hoped our defence would do a better job of stopping (Seaquam’s top rusher) Mark Lego. That kid is something special. That said, I am really happy with this overall win — it feels like a monkey is off our back as Seaquam has won the last two games to knock us out of the playoffs.”

Dallas Towle set the tone for the Whalers early when he scooped up the opening kickoff and took it 85 yards for the touchdown. According to Conn the Whalers then stopped the Seahawks on their first drive and took a 14-0 lead when QB Liam O’Brien found Towle on a 12-yard TD pass.

From then on the game would go back and forth with both teams exchanging scores.

O’Brien rushed for 145 yards on 21 carries scoring four times on the ground while also completing 16 of 21 passes for 310 yards and two TD passes. Towle had eight catches for 141 yards and a TD pass.

“I was really pleased to see how Dallas continues to dominate one-on-one coverage, but also that our other receivers were able to step up,” said coach Conn, pointing to the likes of  Sean Rae, Scott Childs, and Josh Bouchard, who hauled in a 36 yard pass for a TD, who “all played well in our 4-wide system.”

Conn was also quick to credit his offensive line which cleared the way for the inside running game.

Josh Bishop stepped up and added a TD among his 14 carries for 57 yards after starter Tysen Hunt went down with a leg injury. Hunt was day to day leading up to today’s game and it was unclear if he would play.

On defence linebacker Matt Leonard continued to lead the way with seven tackles, while Rae pitched in with three tackles and a fumble recovery.

BIG GAME ON: The Whalers take to Thunderbird Stadium today (Friday) for a big showdown against the Robert Bateman Timberwolves from Abbotsford.

“We’ve never played each other, ever,” Conn said of the opposition. This is the Whalers’ 12th campaign in BC High School Football.

Asked about how they prepare for a team they’ve never played Conn explained that BC coaches use a program called

“For each opponent you get their last five games,” he explained of the on-line video trading program that allows each team to watch every single play of their upcoming opponent. This is our third season using it,” said Conn, adding “it’s a lot better than waiting on the mail for a DVD to show up — every school in B.C. uses it.”

From what he’s seen Conn says the Timberwolves “are very explosive — they have two very fast running backs that like to use the outside and a lot of misdirection — they run like four five reverses a game.”

Ballenas lost to the Mission Roadrunners in the wind and rain in last year’s semifinal for a top four finish.

Asked if his team is looking ahead at all to the idea of getting indoors — only the Championship games are held at BC Place Stadium —  Conn was quick to make the point “we’re just trying to take care of business one game at a time — our saying all year has been ‘do your job and have fun doing it.

“We’re a little beat up,” Conn said this week when asked how his team is holding up. “We’ve got some kids that are sick, some coaches that are sick, but that’s how it is — it’s that time of year.”

GRID BITS: Talk about your stellar seasons. From BC High School Football comes word the Whalers’  6’4” 205 pound pivot Liam O’Brien finished the regular season as the top-ranked passing quarterback in Double-A football — there are over 30 AA high school football teams in BC, while his favourite target, teammate Dallas Towle, led all AA receivers in all three categories with 51 catches, 953 receiving yards, and 14 TD catches.


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