The Ballenas Whalers racked up a pair of wins last week with both the junior and senior squads in action.
On Wednesday the junior Whalers hosted Belmont (AAA) and came away with an 8-6 win in their first regular season game. Liam Robinson got it started on the opening drive as he took a hand off 76 yards to the house and Braydon Hemsworth completed the two–point convert pass to Connor Knutson. From there on it was a wet, tough game where the defense played great only allowing one touchdown against the much bigger Bulldogs.
Austen Hunt led the way with 10 tackles from the middle linebacker spot while Frank Filko and Liam Robinson added five tackles. The juniors host Spectrum at Ballenas on Wednesday at 3:15.
On Friday the seniors found a way to come back and pull off the win in the last minute of play, 26-25, over the Carson Graham Eagles, who were runners up in last year’s provincial final.
“That was one of the most exciting wins in my coaching career,” said the returning head coach Jeremy Conn. “Our kids came out flat but we made adjustments and picked up our game and eventually wore them out. We play tough, hard nose football and as long as we take care of the ball and make our tackles, I think we have a really good chance at a great season.”
An impressive win all around, the performance of Coltin Laplante didn’t go unnoticed. Laplante rushed for all four touchdowns, 248 yards on 28 carries.
“This has been a year of adversity so far,” said Conn. “But no one has gone through more than Coltin. I am so proud of all of the kids but especially him. He is a special player and a special person that our team can really rally around.”
Leading the Whalers defense was Matt Price, with six tackles and Noah Wheatley, who had five tackles. Brendil Sabatino and Stephen Martin both had three tackles and a sack. For Conn, who returned to the team after the school strike finally ended, it was a great week with lots of emotion both on and off the field, for all involved.
“It feels great to be back, for sure,” Conn said. “We could not be where we are now without our community coaches that kept the team going. It’s great to be able to jump back in and see how well our team can play. These guys were well taken care of in my absence and it showed in that game against Carson Graham. Now our goal is to keep getting better everyday going forward.”
The Whalers will play host to the NDSS Islanders on Friday. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Ballenas. The win against Carson Graham brings the senior Whalers record to 1–1 in league play, after they dropped their first game of the year to the reigning provincial champion John Barsby Bulldogs.