Ballenas Whalers are back on the gridiron.
Whalers teams opened their exhibition high school football season against Triple-A Centennial Secondary Centaurs last week. The Whalers junior varsity squad hosted the Centaurs at Ballenas Secondary on Sept. 4 and played hard but lost 29-24.
The senior Whalers travelled to Coquitlam on Sept. 6 where they were hosted by the Centaurs and ended with a 33-21 win.
Both games were important pre-season preparation for the Whalers. Being a Double-A school, they were able to gauge how they would fare against a Triple-A team that has size, depth and speed.
Head coach Dan Smith said they always line up pre-season games against tougher and bigger schools to motivate the Whalers to push themselves in training and work on improving their game for the B.C. High School Football season.
The junior Whalers’ season opener was a game of two halves.
The Centaurs took control of the first half and pressured the Whalers on both ends. But in the second half, Ballenas made a strong comeback and dominated, shutting out the Centaurs. They still came up short, but it still gave the Whalers a good feeling after the game.
Smith said they came out hard and eliminated many of the errors they committed in the first half, which made a big difference down the stretch.
“It’s a great learning experience for us,” Smith told his players. “There’s two halves to a football game. One of the things that we do here is we finish strong together. That’s what you did today. Let’s take that. This is a new audience so I am going to tell you this, ‘I learn way more losing football games than I ever did winning a football game.” So think about your performance today and honestly think about what you need to do in practice.”
The Whalers were led by quarterback Ryker Pearson, who was prominent in both offence and defence. He had two touchdowns, rushed for 80 yards and had four tackles.
Running back Ayden Chambers got hurt early in the game but bounced back strong to score a touchdown and rushed for 213 yards.
Smith commended the junior Whalers for not quitting. The Whalers played ironman football as they were undermanned.
“With kids like this, it’s easy for them to get discouraged,” said Smith. “The real trick is to try to keep them competing. We had a couple of mistakes in the first half and the kids at this age need to learn how to deal with those kind of adversities. The goal was to flush that stuff and say ‘look let’s not dwell on mistakes right now and let’s get on in the second half. Let’s go win the second.’ We accomplished that.”
The real big test for the Junior Whalers will be on Sept. 20 when they play their first conference game against the Robert Bateman Timberwolves at Ballenas, Sept. 20 at 12 p.m.
Meanwhile, the senior Whalers had to overcome the hot weather conditions and a partisan crowd of approximately 1,000 when they took on the Centaurs. The Whalers, despite having a short bench, took the early lead and were in control 21-7 at the end of the first half.
Demar Honstein scored three touchdowns going 49, 50 and 15 yards rushing respectively, while Jacob Stockton scored a touchdown on a 75-yard run. Quarterback Ben Chomolok also scored a touchdown.
Linebacker Adrian Friesen led the defence with 10 tackles with Jack Giroux adding nine.
The Whalers host Belmont Secondary Bulldogs Sept. 13 at 3:15 p.m. at the Ballenas field. They will play their first conference game on Sept. 20 when they host Robert Bateman Timberwolves at 2 p.m.