The Ballenas Whalers senior football team put together its most complete performance Saturday in a 34-0 romp over Surrey’s Frank Hurt Secondary. And with this weekend’s regular-season finale carrying serious playoff implications, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Whalers travel to Richmond Friday to face Hugh Boyd Secondary, where a win could significantly boost the team’s seeding for the postseason.
“They’re very well-rounded,” Ballenas coach Dan Smith said of Hugh Boyd. “They’re gonna be our biggest test. What I like about that is, coming off a game like this I think is a confidence-builder for us. And we needed some confidence to go in against a team like that.”
The Whalers overwhelmed the visiting Hornets across all facets of the game on Saturday. Dayton Coles ran for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 carries and quarterback Ben Robinson scored three touchdowns while rushing 10 times for 80 yards.
Robinson was 4-for-13 for 43 yards through the air, but did not throw an interception. And the Whalers racked up 18 first downs to seven for Frank Hurt.
On defence, Ballenas stuffed the Frank Hurt running game, limiting the visitors to five net yards on 21 carries.
At halftime, the visitors had minus-2 rushing yards and just three first downs — one which came courtesy of a penalty.
The Hornets had a bit more success through the air, totalling 111 yards on 10-of-23 passing. But quarterbacks Jacob Scardera and Andrew Goodlet were greeted by a swarming, punishing rush that netted multiple sacks, and they teamed to cough up three interceptions to the opportunistic Whalers secondary — including two by Braydon Hemsworth.
“We were just wanting to shut them down, dominate the game and see if we could set the tone for the rest of the season,” said Hemsworth. “Aside from the penalties, I think we did a pretty good job all around.”
Ballenas defensive lineman Liviano Canil hauls down Frank Hurt running back Marco Lucarino for a loss as teammate Austin Hunt, right, charges in to assist Saturday at Ballenas Secondary School field. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
Callum Jasinski added a pick, and fellow defensive back Logan Pepper broke up several passes while narrowly missing a couple picks of his own.
Even better, the backup tailback finally saw his busiest day of the season on offence, running for 46 yards on six carries.
“That was a lot more satisfying,” Pepper, a Grade 11, said of his workload with the ball. “Before that, I was anxious to get the ball and didn’t really get a lot of chances. Now, I feel pretty happy about that.”
The Whalers were actually stopped on the game’s opening possession and punted the ball away, but that was to be their only punt of the afternoon.
Robinson followed Pepper’s 31-yard sprint with a two-yard keeper for the game’s first score late in the first quarter, and tucked the ball away on a pass option for a 22-yard scoring run around the right end that made it 13-0 early in the second.
After stopping the Hornets on downs, Ballenas marched 69 yards on eight plays, with Coles scoring on a 23-yard romp that made it 21-0 at halftime.
The teams began the second half with an exchange of turnovers — Hemsworth’s first interception was followed by a botched handoff between Robinson and Coles that led to a lost fumble, the Whalers’ only turnover of the game. Two plays later, though, it was Jasinski’s turn to pick off Goodlet and return the interception 18 yards.
The Ballenas offence finally got back up to speed with an eight-play, 65-yard drive that the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Coles capped with a 42-yard touchdown run.
“We’ve been waiting for Dayton to actually show what he can do in the open field, and he did today,” said Smith. “He went from more of a fullback-type runner to running like a tailback today, which was really awesome to see because he’s so fast for a kid that big.”
Robinson closed out the scoring late in the period with a 46-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-6 play.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to jell as a football team yet, and it finally happened,” said Smith. “Defensively, it was our best game of the season. We shut ‘em down and they couldn’t get open. We had sacks and interceptions, and that was huge.”