In their final exhibition game, the Ballenas Whalers senior football team put their stamp on a dominant win over the Belmont Bulldogs 35-6.
The Whalers were able to show off their passing game throughout the contest as their starting tailback, senior Matt Price, went down with an injury that saw him leave the field in an ambulance.
Thankfully, the injury wasn’t as bad as initially thought, with X-rays showing no break in his injured leg with more tests to come once the swelling goes down.
“That was a tough loss for us as a team,” Whalers head coach Dan Smith said. “Luckily, Matt had some good news with the results from his X-ray and he was very relieved with that, so we’ll see what happens from here with him.”
Leading the way for the Whalers on offense was starting quarterback Garrin McDonnell, who threw for 163 yards on seven passes for four touchdowns. He also ran the ball six times for a total of 41 yards.
Brendan Harstad had two catches for a total of 34 yards and two touchdowns.
Callum Jasinski hauled in a 55-yard touchdown and Daniel Shworan had a 36-yard touchdown catch as well.
On defence, the Whalers were led by Jonah “Haymaker” Hay with eight tackles and one sack.
Brody Seselja had six tackles and one sack, Steve Martin had five tackles and two sacks, Noah Wheatley had four tackles, two sacks and Austen Hunt had five tackles and five assists.
“Belmont liked to spread the ball around,” Smith said. “They don’t play in the box, they like to spread it out so our defense had their work cut out but were able to show what they were made of.”
“The kids on Belmont were bigger and faster than what we’re used to, it was one of the more physical games I’ve seen and I thought our defense acquitted themselves nicely.”
Usually a run-heavy team, the Whalers switched up their game plan after the loss of Price. It gave the team a chance to show what McDonnell and the receiving corps for the Whalers were able to do.
“It was nice to see the ball in the air,” Smith said. “We’ve been able to take advantage of the run the last couple of years thanks to some strong running backs, so we haven’t had to worry about the passing game all that much. That being said, Garrin has a good, strong arm and we’re happy with what we saw.
The Whalers will now kick off their league play with a trip on the road in week one this Friday against the Windsor Dukes (North Vancouver).
“We’re hoping to see more of the same,” Smith said. “We’ll have some time to figure out a few things in practice this week but our defence has been excellent so far and it’s going to be another test for them this week.”
“I’m hoping to see them rise to the occasion once again and have everyone on the team put out a great effort together.”
• The Junior Whalers were in action as well against the Belmont Bulldogs, coming away with a 26-20 victory.