The Ballenas Whalers are proving they are a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron as B.C. high school football playoffs heat up.
Spirits are high for the Whalers football club after an impressive win by the juniors in the first round of playoffs and a group of seniors were selected as Western Conference All-Stars.
The JV Whalers beat the defending AA champions the Mission Roadrunners with a convincing 34-13 victory at Merle Logan Turf Fields in Nanaimo Nov. 6.
The JV Whalers were 6-2 overall and 3-1 in league play, tied with the Mt. Doug Rams for top spot in the five-team Island Division before taking to the field for their first playoff game.
Going into the clash, the Whalers were determined to stay alive and knock off the Roadrunners, who were 2-5 and in sixth spot of the eight-team East Division.
Coach Jeremy Conn said he wasn’t the only one impressed by the boys in blue.
“They played good physical football and smart football. One of the referees even came over and said ‘wow coach these guys are performing really well’. That was nice to hear and it is a monkey off the back because Mission has beaten us twice in the semi-finals so to come out and be able to do that felt good.”
He said it is great to be able to beat a program like Mission because they have been in four of the last championships and won two of those.
“They are a very good program as I know first hand as their senior team has knocked us out of close games the last two years in the semi-finals. So to beat them like this feels pretty good. I am very proud of our kids who played smart and physical football.”
The Whalers were challenged early as Mission drove the ball down to take a 7-0 lead. Ballenas responded as Brody Seselja capped off a long drive with a two yard dive. The Whalers never looked back as they took the lead 14-7 at the half and then led 28-7 before Mission responded to make it 28-13 and then the Whalers closed out the scoring 34-13.
Matt Price led the way rushing 25 times for 236 yards and three TD runs of eight, 60 and 37 yards. Price also threw a 50 TD bomb to wide receiver Sam Paquette on a running back pass. Brenden Harstad was the leading receiver with two catches for 51 yards up the middle.
While the defence did give up 13 points it was able to make several big stops and smother the Mission quarterback. Defensive Lineman Noah Wheatley had seven tackles, a QB sack, and scooped up a fumble and returned it 19 yards. Linebacker Steve Martin had seven tackles while Sam Paquette also added six tackles from the secondary.
The JVs are in the top eight now and have some momentum going into playoff quarter finals Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Merle Logan where they will take on the Sequam Seahawks.
Conn is also stoked that a number of his senior football players have been recognized for their hard work during the season.
Four senior varsity players have been named provincial AA Western Conference All-Stars.
Making the prestigious list were Scott Childs first selection receiver, Brock Mould first selection offensive lineman, Nick Cessford offensive lineman and Coltin Laplante defensive MVP.
Conn said each of them are deserving of the recognition.
“It is a good reflection of our record and our team achievements and the ability of our players and it’s neat because three of them were first ranked for their position which means they’ll get a head start on being Provincial All-Stars as well.”
If they make that elite list they will have an opportunity to attend the All-Star awards banquet Nov. 26 in Vancouver.