Parksville’s Balenas Whalers ready for football season

With the pre-season looming, it’s evident Ballenas Secondary School’s varsity football team has a talented crop of players.

Quarterback Liam O’Brien pulls one in while playing the part of receiver during last Thursday’s practice.

With the pre-season looming, it’s evident Ballenas Secondary School’s varsity football team has a talented crop of players, but a couple new recruits could make a big difference, says their coach.

There were about 36 players out for last Thursday’s practice — a fairly even split between the seniors and the junior varsity players. Practices have been going 4-6:30 p.m. three times a week in preparation for the Whalers’ non-conference pre-season games.

“We’re making pretty good progress with the guys that are out there,” coach Jeremy Conn said, adding, “we’ve got a really talented group, we could just use a few more players … or avoid the injury bug.”

The numbers have been about the same the last couple years, and Conn was in recruiting mode when he conceded “we could use just a bit more depth. I mean we have some of the best talent we’ve ever had, but you need those players coming off the bench for you … we get a couple more kids come out of the woodwork, we’re going to be pretty good.”

This year’s squad doesn’t lack for size and will be led by their standout quarterback Liam O’Brien, who was the top-rated passer in all of BC High School Football last season.

“We’re a bigger team. We’ve got good size and good numbers on the line surprisingly, it’s at the skill positions; we could use a couple more players that can run and catch to come out.”

Anyone interested in learning more about joining the team can email coach conn at connjp@hotmail.com.

“Were making positive strides right now,” the long-serving teacher/coach said, and for good reason.

A recent poll conducted by B.C. coaches has the varsity Whalers ranked No. 3 in the province amongst AA schools.

“It’s flattering, but now we have to prove it at practice and prove it in the games, right?”

Ballenas’ junior varsity team, led by co-head coaches Mike Di Giacomo and Jim Lynch, is also looking for more players.

GAME ON

The JVs host the NDSS Islanders on Thursday, Sept. 6 (kickoff is 3:30 p.m.).

The seniors host the AAA Centennial Centaurs from Coquitlam Sept. 8 (1 p.m. kickoff) in their first of three non-conference tune-ups. They open their regular season at home Saturday Sept. 22 when they square off against the Windsor Dukes in a 1 p.m. start.

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