While the Ballenas Whalers’ 68-42 thrashing of top-ranked Hugh Boyd Friday may look more like a basketball score, Whalers head coach Dan Smith used another sports analogy to describe his squad’s shocking road win in AA Western Conference football play in Richmond.
“It was like a track meet out there at times,” Smith said after the Whalers improved to 4-2 in league play while setting a team single-game scoring record. “Even when you go up a touchdown or two, you had to keep the gas on, because they can score on a single play. And did.”
Ballenas now has a bye week and will await the results of this weekend’s league games to find out who — and where — they will play next. The Whalers have clinched a playoff spot, but won’t know their final placing or matchup until the last game has wrapped up.
If told before Friday’s contest that their team would surrender 42 points to the previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Trojans (5-1, 4-1), the Ballenas coaching staff would not have been optimistic about their chances.
But the Whalers countered Hugh Boyd’s attack with a perfect offensive performance, scoring on all 10 of their possessions while playing turnover-free ball.
Two weeks after being shut out 7-0 by Windsor on the slop of their home field, the Whalers unleashed all of their weapons and amassed 607 total yards against a stunned Hugh Boyd team that was coming off its own big win over previously unbeaten Seaquam a week earlier.
“I haven’t really seen anything like that in my 40-plus years of coaching,” Hugh Boyd coach Bill Haddow told The Province. “And I hope I never do again.”
Grade 11 quarterback Ben Robinson ran the ball 18 times for 151 yards and four touchdowns, and was a perfect 9-for-9 passing for 209 yards and three more scores.
“Ben had probably his best game ever; he just put it all together,” said Smith. “I think he was more focused and had a little less anxiety of trying to do it all.
“The other thing that was important is our receivers never dropped the ball. I think it’s very unusual for receivers to catch every ball thrown to them,” added Smith, himself a B.C. Football Hall of Fame quarterback.
Tight end Liviano Canil was Robinson’s favourite target, hauling in five passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Callum Jasinski had three catches for 78 yards and a TD.
Grade 12 tailback Dayton Coles rushed 23 times for 205 yards and three more touchdowns. Receiver Brayden Hemsworth got into the act with a flea-flicker pass completion to Canil.
“We knew we had some pretty good talent on offence, but we’ve been playing in the slop and mud for three weeks,” said Smith, whose team played its last three games in a row at home. “Getting out there on the turf (field) allowed our guys to get better purchase and use our team speed.”
In their last game on turf, the Whalers put up 35 points in what was then considered an upset victory over John Barsby at Merle Logan Field in Nanaimo.
The Whalers raced to leads of 21-13 after one quarter and 48-28 at halftime. With Ballenas working to control the ball on the ground and eat up the clock, the pace of the scoring slowed afterward. Each team scored once in the third period, and the Whalers wrapped up with a 13-8 edge in the final period.
“It was kind of a weird game,” Ballenas assistant coach Mike Seselja said. “Even when you’re up by 20 you’re still telling the kids, ‘We gotta score more points.’ It just never felt like the lead was safe.”
Quarterback Tyler Moxin, a fifth-year player who gained a season of eligibility after losing last year to injury, threw for two touchdowns for Hugh Boyd. Elusive running back Reace Mok added three touchdowns and the Trojans got another TD on a kickoff return.
Smith said with the Whalers having a week off, they will focus on shoring up their defence and special teams play in practice to get ready for the playoffs. Because once the post-season begins, they can’t afford to be giving up 42 points in a game
“I wouldn’t have wanted to play another quarter,” Smith said of Friday’s game, “because we would have needed to score every time we got the ball. (The Trojans) were.”