Video evidence seems to confirm the Ballenas Whalers were robbed of a chance to play for the provincial championship this weekend at B.C. Place.
An alleged blown call by a referee in overtime on a snowy, cold field at UBC Saturday night allowed the Mission Secondary Roadrunners to advance to the provincial final this weekend, leaving the Whalers football team in disbelief, an emotion that turned to anger and sadness this week.
In a game for the ages, neither defence could stop the running of Ballenas star Coltin Laplante or Mission quarterback Jesse Walker. The provincial semifinal went to overtime tied 54-54, and Ballenas scored on its first possession (Laplante’s eighth touchdown of the day) and kicked a one-point convert. The Whalers then faced Walker and the Roadrunners, who were given a chance to match the Whalers’ major and extend the overtime.
Walker did just that, scoring a touchdown. Mission coach Danny Jacobs made a gutsy call, deciding to go for a two-point convert and the win. The game came down to this one play.
Video evidence seems to show Walker’s knee touched the ground in the slippery backfield on the two-point attempt, which should have ended the play and given the Whalers the victory and a berth in the B.C. final this weekend at B.C. Place against arch-rival Barsby of Nanaimo. But the play was not called dead, Walker continued his run to the end zone and Mission was credited with the victory.
A member of the Ballenas alumni the wants the B.C. High School Football Association to do something about this apparent injustice.
“Mission’s running back was clearly down and the ref (saw) it, as you can see, but they never called (Walker down) and they let them win,” Tylor Blakeney, a Whalers player in 2011, wrote in an e-mail to The NEWS in which he included a photo that shows Walker down in the backfield. “It’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for the Grade 12s and they were robbed of that chance.”
“We are trying to get the word out to change this ruling but the B.C. high school football association won’t answer our questions,” Blakeney continued. “We need help to get this out. It is not fair to the kids or the school and we want something done.”
Blakeney said in a phone interview he understands it’s unlikely the result of the game will be changed, but he said players, students and alumni believe they should get an apology from the association.
Attempts by The NEWS to reach directors of the B.C. High School Football Association (BCHSFA) on Tuesday morning through e-mail addresses supplied on the organization’s website were unsuccessful. The NEWS also tried to contact association past president Farhan Lalji (the TSN reporter) through his Twitter account, without success. The story had been viewed by thousands of people on our website and Facebook page by Wednesday afternoon but there was still no response from anyone from the BCHSFA by press time Wednesday.
Ballenas coach Jeremy Conn spoke to The NEWS on Monday.
“It’s haunting,” said Conn. “It’s a horrible way to end the season. It’s one of those things that’s going to stick. But it was an amazing season. These kids played well and I’m very proud of they effort they gave.”