Jr. Whalers move on to second round

Senior Whalers football team is out, but juniors move on to Holy Cross this Friday in Nanaimo

Junior Whalers running back Logan Pepper cuts back and finds a hole on his way to a touchdown during action against the Robert Bateman Timberwolves. The Whalers won 28-15.

It’s a tale of two different seasons for the Ballenas Whalers football program, as the season has come to an end for the seniors, but the juniors rolled on to the second round.

In Lower Mainland action Friday, the Whalers senior football team was in tough against the Langley Knights, looking to extend their season and advance to the second round of playoffs.

It wasn’t in the cards for the team that battled through injuries all season, losing 41-19 to the Knights.

The juniors, meanwhile, are off to the second round after a 28-15 win over Robert Bateman (Abbotsford).

It was a tough season for the senior team, who went without starting running back Matt Price (knee injury), leaving a big gap in their offence. The team was banged up on defence as well, being without key players at various times throughout the season.

“It was tough on them,” coach Jeremy Conn said. “But they battled as hard as they could.”

“When you’re dealing with that many injuries as a team, it’s tough,” Conn said. “When it’s players that are so important to your lineup, it’s that much harder. I’m very impressed with the way they played through the adversity and battled when they were down, very impressed.

For the junior team, it’s a completely different story. Having home field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs (at Merle Logan Field in Nanaimo), the junior Whalers took on the Robert Bateman Timberwolves in their first round match last week.

Playing in wind and pouring rain coming down sideways at times, the Whalers were able to take advantage of some miscues from the Timberwolves and beat them 28-15.

“Any win is a good win,” Conn said. “It was nasty, we just wanted the game to be over at some points throughout but that’s playoff football.”

“After they opened up the scoring off a mistake we made, we shut those mistakes down and played conservative to preserve the win.”

“We might not have gotten any style points for the win, but we got the win and that’s what we came there to do.”

The Whalers were down 7-0 early but would score 22 unanswered points before the Timberwolves would get more. But by then, it was too little too late.

Logan Pepper had 92 yards rushing on the ground and a touchdown. Connor Knutson caught a pass, which he took for 43 yards and a touchdown from QB Ben Robinson.

Robinson also ran in for a touchdown of his own. Matt Giroux also found his way in to the end zone with a rushing touchdown. Giroux led the way for the Whalers on defence, piling up 10 tackles in the victory.

The Whalers will now face the Holy Cross Crusaders — who they beat in week two by a score of 22-2 — this Friday at Merle Logan Field in Nanaimo, kickoff at 3:00 p.m.

“Records are gone in the playoffs,” Conn said. “Previous results don’t matter anymore. Holy Cross is one of the most improved teams in the league and very well coached. They have size and athletes and they’re built for bad weather games.”

“It’s going to be a battle but it’ll be all about practice, preparation and who wants it most.”

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