Having two teams combine for over 100 points in a football game may be exciting for the fans, but for the coaches, “it can be a nightmare.”
Ballenas Secondary School’s varsity team marched down the field and scored on the opening drive, but it wasn’t enough as they came up on the short end of a 60-46 final to the Carson Graham Eagles from North Van in a hard-fought offensive slugfest played out in cool damp conditions on a slick field soaked from the heavy rains the night before.
“Well, there wasn’t much defence,” Carson coach Buchannan and Ballenas coach Conn agreed after the game, which goes into the books as the most points scored in a single game in Whalers history.
“That was my main concern,” said Conn. “I knew Carson’s running back A.J. Blackwell (ranked third in the province in AA) was good and I hoped the slippery, wet grass would slow him down, but I think it made it harder for our tacklers. We just couldn’t tackle (him),” said Conn. “I thought Halloween was over, but I am going to have nightmares of #22 running up and down the field for a few nights.”
The Whalers put up a good fight offensively, and were also able to run the ball well as tailback Thomas Franks piled up 138 yards on 21 carries, and fullback Coltin Laplante 121 yards on 12 touches.
Franks pounded out four TD runs of 8, 2, 14 and 43 yards. A.J. Messner added a seven yard TD run, and standout receiver Scott Childs, who was named B.C. High School AA Football Player of the Week last week for his 4-TD, 3 INT performance against Argyle, pulled down four catches for 78 yards including a 32-yard touchdown strike.
The other TD for Ballenas came from a blocked punt by Steve Martin which was recovered by Josh Bouchard.
“Our offense played great. We he had some good kick returns, but our poor coverage on special teams and our lack of defence versus the run cost us the game,” said the always-concise coach Conn. “We need to fix this ASAP our we won’t beat Mission next week.”
On defence, it was Laplante leading the charge and adding to his league-leading stats with 13 tackles.
By far the leading tackler in B.C. High School AA football, Laplante tops the list of 20 having posted 93 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery in nine games played.
“Coltin is a great athlete who is a wonderful student of the game,” said Conn. “He has a motor that just does not stop — he never seems to get tired. In the big game he seems to have his best days, that’s what every coaches wants from his leaders.”
The senior Whalers finished 6-4 overall and 3-3 in league for fourth in the seven-team Western Conference. The team now shifts its focus to the first round of the playoffs and figuring out a way to get past the Eastern Conference’s first place, unbeaten 6-0 Mission Roadrunners next week (time TBA).
“This is a strange matchup,” said Conn, “as we have lost to them in the semi-finals the last two years, and our Juniors are also playing them this week as well, so it’s going to bring a lot of familiarity and emotion to the week at practice.”
IN JV ACTION the Whalers blasted the NDSS Islanders 57-36 in their final home game to close out the regular season. Matt Price had himself a Whale of a game, piling up what must be a JV Whaler record 344 yards and four TDs on the ground.
The Juniors finished 6-2 overall and 3-1 in league play, tied with the Mt. Doug Rams for top spot in the five-team Island Division.
The Whalers open the playoffs Wednesday against the Roadrunners (2-5 for sixth in the eight-team East Division) at Merle Logan Turf Fields in Nanaimo. Kickoff is 4 p.m.