The Ballenas Whalers senior varsity football team will not have to make the long trip to the Interior for their BC Secondary Schools Football Association quarter-final playoff clash against South Kamloops on Friday, Nov. 19.
Widespread flooding in the province has led BC School Sports, the governing body for high school sports, to alter this year’s Subway Bowl playoff championships, creating regional championships instead of a provincial championship.
So instead of travelling to Kamloops to take on the Titans, the Whalers will head to North Vancouver to face a familiar nemesis, Carson Graham Eagles, who on Oct. 20 beat Ballenas 32-20 in Nanaimo.
The Whalers had been scrambling to raise extra funds to cover the cost of playing the Titans.
“Our fundraising president Jim Lynch was pulling out whatever hair he had left trying to figure out accommodation and travel,” said head coach Dan Smith. “The expense was enormous.”
Smith said they were prepared, as they had some people who generously donated to the Whalers organization, but it also meant emptying the team’s coffers.
“The weather basically changed the situation,” said Smith.
Whalers will instead face the Eagles in the regional playoff quarter-finals on Friday. The winners advance to the semifinals that will be played at BC Place next week.
Smith said they welcomed the change but the Whalers will not have much time to prepare for the Eagles, one of the top teams in the league.
“Carson beat us earlier in the year and we know them a little bit,” said Smith. “I think they’re stronger than the team we were about to play in Kamloops. They’re bigger and they have more speed. We don’t have to travel far, that’s a bonus. And when you play a team a second time, it should be a competitive advantage where you want to redeem yourself. One of the goals is to get the kids to play at BC Place. We’re one game away from doing that.”
The last time the Whalers took on the Eagles, they were without quarterback and tightend Ryker Sansbury and also lost quarterback Jupe Brayden.
“We’re reasonably healthy this time and that should help us,” said Smith.