Spring Football Jamboree a big hit

Great chance for Jr. and Sr. Ballenas players to gain tournament game experience

Grade 9 quarterback Garrin McDonnell

Suffice it to say the annual Island Spring Football Jamboree in Nanaimo was a big hit.

Played at John Barsby Secondary School last Friday and Saturday, the jamboree, which dates back to 1995, is an important step to develop individual player technique, conditioning, unit schemes, player combinations and character under game conditions.

All the teams involved spent the previous three weeks practicing, each team is allowed 10 practices.

Friday’s Varsity Jamboree featured the host Bulldogs, NDSS and Ballenas Secondary, while the Jr. Varsity Jamboree on Saturday had the same teams plus Vancouver College.

“For the spring camp it was pretty productive,” Whalers’ returning head coach Jeremy Conn said after, adding “I think the kids really enjoyed it and there was good energy coming out of it.”

At Friday’s Senior Jamboree the Whalers lost their first game to Barsby 30-6 — Coltin Laplante had the lone TD on a six yard run off-tackle.

“Everyone played,” pointed out Conn, adding “our inexperience showed as Barsby was able to pull away after being tied 6-6. Tough loss, but lot’s to learn from.”

The senior Whalers bounced back in game two, beating the NDSS Islanders 14-12 on the final play of the game.

The Islanders, said Conn, “look very good this year with one of the top passing games in B.C. and a good backfield,” pointing out his squad was trailing late but came back to tie the game on the last play and won it on a two point convert.

Grade 9 pivot Garrin McDonnell, who was playing up with the senior squad, led the way in that one, throwing a 33 yard touchdown strike to Scott Childs and also running in a seven yard bootleg to tie the game, and McDonnell found fellow junior call-up Brenden Harstad on the two point convert for the win.

Scott Childs led the Whalers’ offence on the day with seven catches for 105 yards and his TD. On defence, Coltin Laplante “was a beast” with 16 tackles and a sack.

ON SATURDAY the JV Whalers got the ball rolling with an exciting 12-6 victory over the John Barsby Bulldogs.

Garrin McDonnell caught a six yard TD pass from Pivot Brody Seselja in that one, and Santiago Thompson scored the go ahead TD on a three yard QB sneak. Matt Price led the ground game with 40 yards on eight carries.

In game two the Juniors fell behind early to the Islanders and tried to come back but it was too little to late in a 20-14 loss.

Santiago Garcia and Jacob Kirby both had TD runs in that game.

In game three the JV’s lost 20-6 to AAA Vancouver College. Sam Paquette caught a six yard TD pass from Garrin McDonnell, and Austin Hunt led the defence with seven tackles.

All told, Conn said they had some 22 seniors and 27 JV’s suiting up on the weekend “which is a healthy number.

“We’ve got some really talented guys and we’ve got some rookies,” Conn surmised when asked how the blue and white are shaping up. “We’ve got a really good group of juniors and a strong core of seniors, and we also have about a half dozen new guys on the varsity team, so once they figure out our systems we’re going to have another strong team.”

The team breaks for summer with the team in the weight room beginning early July and the fall training camp getting underway August 12.

Their and their first home game is against Spectrum from Victoria August 30 at 3:30 p.m.