The VSS Panthers are on a mission to be the best football team in school history.
“Our expectations are to better than any Panther team that has come before us,” said Panthers’ coach Sean Smith.
If that were to happen, it would mean that the Panthers would be booking tickets to Vancouver for the end of November to play in the provincial championship game at B.C. Place.
“I have gone to two semifinals with my grade and I think we are all hungry to try and make it happen this year,” said Panthers’ quarterback John Garvie.
The Panthers are on the right track so far. The Panthers downed the Pitt Meadows Marauders 26-7 two weeks ago at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops.
Pitt Meadows is an AA school from the mainland that beat the AAA Mount Boucherie Bears 14-7 of West Kelowna earlier in September.
The Panthers also cooked the Fulton Maroons 48-0 last week at Grahame Park.
Karson Patommel is a jack of all trades for the Panthers. The runningback, tight end and linebacker knows what it’s going to take for the Cats to make a serious run.
“We don’t have the deepest team, we got a lot of skilled guys, but we need to stay healthy in order to make a run at it,” said the second-year captain.
Patommel was quiet in the game against the youthful Maroons, but torched the Marauders for three touchdowns.
“We’ve got a lot of returning guys and we are talented at the key positions,” said Smith. “Our older guys like Zac (Kronbauer), Karson and John are going to lead the way with some exprienced linemen and we have some Grade 11 guys coming in, like Carson Labrecque who will make big plays for us.”
You won’t find Brandon Melbourne’s name in the boxscore following a victory, but he has one of the most important roles with the Panthers this fall.
“I love knowing that I’m important and contributing,” said the Panthers’ left tackle. “John and I have become good friends on the field and at school over the years and it’s a job I love doing.”
The 6-foot, 230 pounder crushes 295 pounds on the bench press and has aspirations of playing college football.
Kronbauer will be sharing the rock with Patommel this fall in his final year with the Cats. When he isn’t taking it to the house, he plays cornerback in defensive coverage.
“I love always being on the field. Growing up with city leagues, we never had enough guys, so I was always on the field. It’s the only way I know how to play,” sad Kronbauer.
The 5-foot-11 tailback delievered three touchdowns against the Maroons and enjoys watching Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ rookie runningback Nic Grigsby.
“He’s awesome because he busts off big runs and scores touchdowns. What’s not to love about that?” said Kronbauer.
Jeff Collins is the Panthers’ defensive co-ordinator and also runs the wide receivers. Keith Johnston operates special teams and the line, while Panther grad Nick Moffat looks after the runningbacks.
Managers are Cam Nicolic, Matt Crerar and Zack Smith. First aid man is Mike Riva.
The Panthers look to keep gaining momentum when they visit the South Kam Titans Friday night at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops. VSS hosts the Valleyview Vikes Saturday, Oct. 10 at Grahame Park. The Cats square off against Fulton Saturday, Nov. 1.