Parksville’s Ballenas Whalers are the second-best junior varsity high school football club in the province.
Ballenas dropped a 61-22 decision to the Vernon Panthers Saturday morning, in the BC Secondary Schools Football Association Double-A JV championship game at BC Place.
The Whalers battled hard but it wasn’t enough against one of the top high school football programs in the province. It was the only loss the Whalers suffered this season.
Whalers JV head coach Michael Seselja said this is the fourth time in 10 years the Whalers ended with the silver medal.
“I don’t know what else we have to do,” Seselja said. “The kids played their hearts out. Vernon has an extraordinary group of coaches and extraordinary group of athletes. We scored the most points any opponent scored on them all year.”
The defence, the foundation of the Whalers’ near-perfect season, was not able to slow the down the Panthers attack.
The Panthers scored on their first possession, but the Whalers bounced back as they got their running game going early with running back Spencer Jordan setting a blistering pace and adeptly finding the gaps to earn Ballenas much-needed first downs. They were able to advance the ball close to the end zone and quarterback Riley Wilson took advantage by running in for a touchdown. Jordan followed it up with a successful two-point convert to give Ballenas an 8-6 lead.
The Whalers lead was short-lived as the Panthers replied with a fourth down, 40-yard TD pass to regain the lead 13-8. The flow of the game changed from there, as the Panthers scored to lead 19-8, 26-8, and then 33-8.
The Whalers lost a key element of their offence and defence when Wilson suffered a concussion and was not able to return. Jordan continued to give the Panthers trouble, finishing with a pair of touchdowns. But the locals were dealt another blow when backup QB Lee Jordan hurt his ankle and Vernon cruised from there to the 61-22 final score.
Senior head coach Scott Childs commended the gallant effort of the entire Whalers team.
“This team, this group here is special,” said Childs. “They’re going to be special in the next couple of years. too. They played like Whalers. They never gave up. They finished strong and finished together, which is our mantra. And they really embodied that today.”
Noah Silzer, one of the Whalers on-field leaders, said they are disappointed to lose in the final but he will remember the experience of having played at BC Place.
“We’re all unhappy about it but for me I am very happy we made it this far in the first place,” said Silzer. “Going into this game, I was just looking forward to the experience of playing at BC Place. It’s a great experience and memory to have.”
Silzer plans to use the experience as a motivator to try and help the Whalers return next year.
The Whalers also celebrated as one of their senior players, Rohan Barlow, was named to the 2023 provincial all-star team.