Ballenas Whalers Junior Varsity football team’s defence made it tough for the Robert Bateman Timberwolves in their quarterfinal playoff that was played at Merle Logan on Wednesday afternoon. — Michael Briones photo

UPDATE: Ballenas junior, senior football sides in B.C. semifinals

Both squads play final-four contests this week

The Ballenas Junior Varsity Whalers are in the final four of the Subway Bowl of the BC High School Football league.

The Whalers, despite taking 14 penalties, tamed the Robert Bateman Timberwolves 28-6 in a quarter-final playoff game at Merle Logan Field in Nanaimo on Wednesday afternoon. They will n0w prepare to take on South Kamloops Nov. 20 at Burnaby Lakes.

The Whalers are aiming for provincial championship glory at BC Place, where the final would be held. The last time the Whalers made it to the Subway Bowl final was in 2017, when they lost to the Vernon Panthers 36-8.

The Whalers dominated from the start with a solid defensive game that caused the Timberwolves to fumble the ball three times. The Whalers capitalized on two of them to give them a 14-0 lead and went on to close the half time with a 21-0 lead. They added another touch down in the third quarter and field goal to increase their lead to 28-0.

Head coach Dan Smith was pleased with the way the Whalers started the game.

“What we had plan is to get at them early and get after them,” said Smith. “We created and forced them to commit turnoves early and the next thing that we really did well was we capitalized. The kids played with passion. My belief is defence wins championships and running game wins championships. We did both those things really well.”

Running back Ayden Chambers carried the ball ten times for 76 yards and had two touchdowns to spark the Whalers offence. Gage D’Lerma rushed for 117 yards and had a touchdown as well as two receptions for 15 yards.

READ MORE: Ballenas Whalers players earn gridiron all-star nods

Quarterback Ryker Pearson completed four passes out of seven attempts for 38 yards and had one intereception. He also rushed for 92 yards and scored a touchdown.

The Timberwolves were able to score in the fourth quarter but weren’t able to truly threaten the Whalers, who survived a variety of holding calls against them that slowed their offence.

Smith didn’t want to be critical of the referees but took exception when officials failed to stop a play that could have injured Whalers quarterback Pearson.

“I had a few issues but at the end of the day, we have to play the game and the officials are guys we don’t have to worry about too much,” said Smith. “And usually when I get exorcised about this is when I see kids in position I think would get hurt. And the one here was there was five kids pushing Ryker, pushing him back, pushing him back. I think they should have blown forward progress because if he lands on his back on turf, there’s several guys on him. That’s the only that I got upset about.”

Smith said they will work on minimizing the Whalers penalties and told the players that having 14 penalties will not win them a championship.

The Ballenas Junior Varsity Whalers are in the final four of the Subway Bowl of the BC High School Football league.

The Whalers, despite taking 14 penalties, tamed the Robert Bateman Timberwolves 28-6 in a quarter-final playoff game at Merle Logan Field in Nanaimo on Wednesday afternoon. They will now prepare to take on South Kamloops on Nov. 20 at Burnaby Lakes.

The Whalers are aiming for provincial championship glory at BC Place, where the final would be held. The last time the Whalers made it to the Subway Bowl final was in 2017, when they lost to the Vernon Panthers 36-8.

The Whalers dominated from the start with a solid defensive game that caused the Timberwolves to fumble the ball three times. The Whalers capitalized on two of them to give them a 14-0 lead and went on to close the half time with a 21-0 lead. They added another touch down in the third quarter and field goal to increase their lead to 28-0.

Head coach Dan Smith was pleased with the way the Whalers started the game.

“What we had plan is to get at them early and get after them,” said Smith. “We created and forced them to commit turnoves early and the next thing that we really did well was we capitalized. The kids played with passion. My belief is defence wins championships and running game wins championships. We did both those things really well.”

Running back Ayden Chambers carried the ball ten times for 76 yards and had two touchdowns to spark the Whalers offence. Gage D’Lerma rushed for 117 yards and had a touchdown as well as two receptions for 15 yards.

Quarterback Ryker Pearson completed four passes out of seven attempts for 38 yards and had one intereception. He also rushed for 92 yards and scored a touchdown.

The Timberwolves were able to score in the fourth quarter but weren’t able to truly threaten the Whalers, who survived a variety of holding calls against them that slowed their offence.

Smith didn’t want to be critical of the referees but took exception when officials failed to stop a play that could have injured Whalers quarterback Pearson.

“I had a few issues but at the end of the day, we have to play the game and the officials are guys we don’t have to worry about too much,” said Smith. “And usually when I get exorcised about this is when I see kids in position I think would get hurt. And the one here was there was five kids pushing Ryker, pushing him back, pushing him back. I think they should have blown forward progress because if he lands on his back on turf, there’s several guys on him. That’s the only that I got upset about.”

Smith said they will work on minimizing the Whalers penalties and told the players that having 14 penalties will not win them a championship.

• Also moving on are the Ballenas senior varsity Whalers, who beat Robert Bateman 35-14 in their AA quarter-final.

The final score doesn’t reflect how close the game was for the majority.

“We expected a hard battle as Bateman is well-coached and has some really good talent,” said Smith. “So I wasn’t surprised when they got ahead of us early on, I think our kids underestimated them so it’s a good learning lesson for sure.”

Bateman scored on the opening drive to take the lead on a long Phoenix Mueller run, but missed the extra point to take the lead 6-0.

Ballenas would respond later on a long drive capped off by quarterback Ben Chomolok’s two-yard run.

The game was back-and-forth in the second until Chomolok found Nathan Robinson on a 29-yard post route for the go-ahead TD. It was 14-6 at the half.

“We were disapointed honestly as we dropped some passes, had too many penalties, and got burned in pass coverage a few times in the first. But we felt good going into the second half looking forward to cleaning that up, but then that fell flat,” said Smith.

A Bateman pick-six and two-point conversion evened the score at14-14.

“We had to settle down so we got back to basics with our run game and quick passing attack,” said Smith.

Eventually the Whalers pulled away as Chomolok ran in two more TD sneaks and found Wide Receiver Jacob Stockton on a 32-yard slant and run for the touchdown.

Then the defence finished it off with a QB sack, strip and fumble recovery to ice the win.

Chomolok led rushers with 13 carries for 70 yards and three TDs, along with 8 of 19 passing and two majors.

Demar Hohnstein added 12 carries for 68 yards but did not play much in the second half due to an injury. Adrian Friesen led the team with six tackles and Jack Giroux had five.

The Whalers meet Vernon on Saturday (noon) at BC Place.

“It was a good team win as we had several players step up to fill roles taken on by injuries. Now we need to get healthy as it only gets harder from here on out,” said Smith. “We are really proud of our program as we have both our junior and senior teams going to the semifinals.”

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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