They train like they’re in an NFL or CFL combine camp. And come Game Day, Caden Doyle of the Fulton Maroons and Brad Hladik of the Vernon Panthers never take a breather.
Their commitment to excellence has been rewarded. Doyle has been named the Okanagan Senior AA Varsity Football Conference offensive MVP. Hladik took the defensive award.
Doyle, who also plays defence, registered seven catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Maroons. Doyle also rang up 311 yards on 13 rushes for three touchdowns, putting him 10th in the province. He earned 174 yards on five kick-off returns, including a 120-yard TD romp. Fulton finished 3-1.
Hladik, an outside linebacker who plays tight end on offence, was fifth in B.C. with eight tackles and one interception for the 3-0 Panthers.
Fulton head coach Mike Scheller knew good things were going to happen with Doyle on the turf.
“The kid’s just a threat to score every time he touches the ball,” said Scheller. “He runs so well and he’s so fast. He’s determined. Every time he gets the ball, he’s thinking touchdown. He averaged 27 yards a touch. He’s a breakaway threat so teams have to design a game-plan to defend him.”
Panther head coach Sean Smith has used Hladik at a different position since Grade 10. Hladik was the Grade 11 MVP in 2016.
“What he brings to the table is his versatility,” said Smith. “He’s got the skill set to play outside linebacker. He can run vertically so he’s good enough to stay in coverage which not a lot of high school players can do. He covers a lot of space and being six-three, he has long arms and knows how to play the angles.”
The conference Grade 11 MVP awards went to quarterback Thomas Hyett and linebacker Charles Lemay, both of the Panthers.
The Panthers also saw receiver Perez Vermeulen, offensive linemen Levi Danbrook and Jackson Thomas, defensive linemen Trey Defoor and Kael Black, linebackers Drew MacKenzie and Liam Alder, and defensive back Landon Colvin named to the all-star team.
Fulton was represented by running back Ryan Rumsey, flex star Teigan Derkach, offensive lineman JJ Heaton, defensive lineman Ike Olson and defensive back Nate Banga.
The Maroons entertain the Samuel Roberts Tech Titans of Maple Ridge in first-round playoff action Friday. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Greater Vernon Athletics Park but could be moved if snow doesn’t melt by then. The Panthers get a first-round bye.
Meanwhile, Panther grad Ben Hladik, conference MVP last year, joined Adam Sinagra and Niko DiFonte as Canada West football players of the week following the Hardy Cup semifinals last weekend.
Hladik helped UBC Thunderbirds to a 28-21 win over the Regina Rams for the second consecutive season at home. The rookie linebacker did his part with a game-high 9.5 tackles.
The Thunderbirds battle the Calgary Dinos in the 81stHardy Cup this Saturday at 1 p.m. MST at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
You can watch the game on the Canada West Football Showcase (SaskTel, TELUS, BellMTS), or online at Canada West TV.
In the Ontario University Athletics Conference (OAU), Fulton grad Tanner Bishop, an offensive lineman with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, made the All Rookie Team.
Bishop, transitioning from junior football to university, saw great success on a Gee-Gees offensive line that was trying to establish their rhythm.
“A highly-touted recruit from Vernon, Bishop impressed with his athleticism and strength at right guard,” said a release on the Gee-Gees website. “Although a mid-season injury cost him some playing time, Bishop looks to be a key member of the Gee-Gees’ offensive line going forward.”
The Gee-Gees lost 30-7 to Guelph Gryphons in OAU quarterfinal action Saturday.