The Ballenas Whalers saw their season come to an end on Friday (Nov. 19), falling 36-8 to the Carson Graham Eagles in BC Secondary Schools Football Association quarter-final playoff action in North Vancouver.
Head coach Dan Smith said the Whalers had to endure not only a tough rival but also challenges on their way to the game. A sinkhole in Lantzville that slowed down traffic along Highway 19 nearly caused the Whalers to miss the ferry.
B.C. School Sports, which governs high school sports in the province, made a decision not to hold a provincial championship and changed it to a regional championship due to widespread flooding. The Whalers had to face Carson Graham (instead of travelling to Kamloops) in the quarter-final because of that.
Smith said they had little time to prepare for the Eagles, one of the top teams in the province.
The Eagles stamped their authority from the start and by halftime led 14-0. The Whalers had opportunities to cut the lead with their running game. Smith said they moved the ball up close to the Eagles 10-yard line but they just couldn’t convert.
“I told our kids that this is playoff football,” said Smith. “The team that makes the least mistakes wins. We made big mistakes and against a team like that in their park, that’s tough because they take advantage of it. That’s what happened.”
Smith said at the end of the day, the Eagles were just too strong.
“I am proud of our kids because they didn’t give up,” said Smith. “I can’t be disappointed with the effort. They played really tough. Our linemen stood up against their linemen all the way. They were tough.”
The Whalers scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, led by quarterback Ryker Sansbury who ran in from one yard out and also tossed a two-point convert to Avery Swanson.
Ayden Chambers carried the ball 10 times for the Whalers for 54 yards while his brother Kooper had nine carries for 32 yards.
One defence, Enzo Agostini had seven tackles and two sacks while Brayden Harvey had four tackles and an interception. Jonah Anderson had three tackles and a sack.
“It’s a disappointing way to end the season,” said coach Jeremy Conn. “We just did not play well in all phases of the game consistently enough to win. But hats off to Carson Graham. They executed their game plan very well on us, once again. That said we are proud of our kids for the effort they put in this season and the great commitment they showed as this was a very trying season and they never gave up.”
The BC High School Football all-stars were announced recently. Agostini was named the most valuable player on defence in the AA Coastal Conference. Earning a spot in the all-star defensive line was Anderson, while Will Dubeski was named to the offensive line all-star lineup.