The Ballenas Whalers junior varsity football team trailed three times, but fought back each time and earned an overtime 18-15 win over the Langley Saints in the BC High School Football semifinals at Burnaby Lakes Wednesday, Nov. 22.
The Whalers advanced to the provincial finals and will face the Vernon Panthers at B.C. Place Saturday, Dec. 2, at 11 a.m. This will only be the second time the Ballenas junior program to make it to the finals, said head coach Dan Smith.
“They showed a lot of character coming from behind to win it in overtime,” said Smith. “We were behind three times but they showed a lot of reslience. It was a good football performance.”
Playing under rainy and windy conditions, the semifinal matchup was a hard-fought game, Smith said. But the Whalers held their own, Smith said.
“It was really a typical playoff tight game as both teams played very, very hard and very tough,” said Smith. “Our kids started slow and were a little tentative at the beginning. Then they just buckled down and became very determined, almost angry. From there we played a lot tougher.”
The Whalers found themselves down 6-0 early when the Saints running back Kai Thomas scored an impressive 90-yard touchdown run.
The Whalers bounced back to tie it up with tight end Bruce McCabe reaching the end zone on quarterback Ben Chomolok’s 15-yard touchdown pass. The Saints regained the lead and closed the second quarter with a 12-6 edge.
Following the break, the Whalers tightened their defence to shut out the Saints in the last two quarters. Ballenas tied it up 12-12 after the Whalers, at the five-yard line, drove the ball in for a touchdown by Chomolok. However, they were unable to score the convert, forcing the match to go into overtime.
In overtime, each team gets the ball on the 10-yard line. The Saints went first. The Whalers’ defence, Smith said, was solid at this crucial juncture as they stopped the Saints three times.
“The big play was on third down,” Smith said. “The defence came up big, stopping their top runner at the two yard line.”
The Saints were still able to score on a field goal, to go up 15-12. The Whalers then took their turn at the 10-yard line and completed the drive with the winning touchdown when Steven Boley scored on a third-down pass play.
“We really had good blocking on our third-down play and scored to win,” said Smith.
Running back Boley had an outstanding game for the Whalers’ offence, said Smith, rushing 27 times for a total of 224 yards. He also added seven tackles at the defensive end. Linebackers Demar Honstein and Jack Giroux each had seven tackles.