The Whalers beat the Sun Devils for the first time in the team’s 11-year history, and Ballenas Secondary School’s boys of AA varsity football reeled in its first conference win of the season on home field with a physical 27-13 decision over South Delta Saturday.
Played out under fabulous fall conditions and the sidelines loud with the cheers of fans of both teams, the game started with the graduating Whalers — 14 in all — taking time to present their moms with blue roses as part of the team’s annual Mother’s Day “in appreciation for everything they do” event.
Jake Edkins led the team out onto the field and through the banner in explosive fashion, brandishing a harpoon.
Offensively, Ballenas’ passing game was back on track as quarterback Liam O’Brien found senior receivers Matt Vandervelde, Dustin Rodriguez, and Justin Holland for touchdowns in the first half. Ballenas took a 21-7 lead into the break.
One of three full-time captains on the team, Vandervelde is constantly talking to his teammates on the field and scored his touchdown when he took a swing pass from seven yards out, lowered his shoulder and blew through two defenders.
“He’s one of our main leaders, and a real physical presence,” said coach Jeremy Conn.
O’Brien heads into week three of the regular season as the second leading Double-A passer in the province, while his favourite targets, Holland and Rodriguez, are the seventh and eighth ranked receivers in B.C.
The Whalers, wearing their black and blues, played ball-control in the second half and were chewing up the clock when tailback Tysen Hunt scampered 59 yards for the Whalers’ last major. Hunt finished with a game-high 143 yards rushing on the day.
Holland also led the stifling Whaler D with eight tackles. Dennis Adams had six tackles and an interception which he returned for 21 yards.
Chance Kougan also had six tackles. Defensive end Scott McDonald had three sacks and four tackles on the day, and Jake Adams, who has been playing very well of late, broke through for a sack as well.
“That poor quarterback — he took a beating today,” one Whalers’ fan chuckled.
The hit of the game came in the second quarter when Dallas Towell delivered a crushing peel-back block that launched a Sun Devil defender into the stratosphere and sprung Holland for extra yards around the left side, much to the delight of the Ballenas bench.
“Overall we were very happy as our defense played physical, our offence is getting to be more balanced as needed, and our special teams continues to improve,” said Conn, adding, “this is a big monkey off our back as we have never beaten South Delta (and) it feels really good right now.”
The win lifts the Whalers to 1-1 and tied with their longtime Mainland rivals the Handsworth Royals for second in the five-team AA Western Conference behind the unbeaten No. 1 ranked Barsby Bulldogs.
The Sr. Whalers are back home this Friday (3:15 p.m. kickoff) for a big game against said Royals.