Orange sun setting in the west. Fans in the bleachers. Fans in lawn chairs on the other side of the field. Friday night lights.
For the first time in nearly two years, an audience was on hand to watch a high school football game in Vernon Friday, Sept. 24, and the hometown Vernon Panthers did not disappoint.
The two-time defending B.C. High School Senior Varsity AA champion Cats scored nine touchdowns – eight on offence – in rolling to a 61-0 win over the AAA Salmon Arm Golds in Okanagan AA/AAA Hybrid Division action at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.
Quarterback Jake Farrell led the Panther offence going 10 of 17 for 269 yards including two touchdowns passes and a 29-yard rushing touchdown.
For the third consecutive week, the Panthers’ defence was stout and were able to keep their opponents under 15 points. Scotty Hoffman and Kolby Thorpe each registered six tackles and Mitchell Bond had the game’s only interception.
“I thought our defence was very stingy again this week,” said Vernon head coach Sean Smith, whose team dropped both of its pre-season games by a combined 13 points. “We didn’t give up many plays over five yards and were able to keep them off the scoreboard. Scotty Hoffman and Kolby Thorpe were great on the second level tonight.”
Hoffman had two majors, one through the air, a 40-yard pass from Braden Khunkhun, and a five-yard scamper. He caught three balls for 120 yards. Thorpe also found the end zone twice on runs of 20- and two-yards. Mitchell Bond (29-yards) and Jordan Loxam (10-yards) caught TD passes, Khunkhun ran 23-yards for six points and Landon Janke helped the defence get in on the fun, recovering a blocked punt in the end zone.
Roan Reid, who had a touchdown called back due to a penalty, had four catches for 102 yards.
“We’ve still got a ways to go offensively – our execution is still a bit off – but I’m seeing signs of improvement every week,” said Smith. “I was happy to see Jordan Loxam get his first touchdown reception as a Panther.”
Vernon was to have travelled to Kamloops this week to face Westsyde but the Blue Wave has dropped out of the season. The Panthers, thus, have a bye and will return to action Friday, Oct. 8, against the AAA Mt. Boucherie Bears of West Kelowna at GVAP. The kickoff will be at 7 p.m.
• In junior varsity play, the AAA Rutland Voodoos defeated the visiting Vernon Panthers 35-7 in the season-opening game for both teams. Vernon will host the AAA Mt. Boucherie Bears of West Kelowna in its home opener Thursday, Sept. 30, at GVAP (4 p.m.).
The Fulton Maroons scheduled game at home against the Salmon Arm Golds was postponed. The Maroons visit the Okanagan Mission Huskies in Kelowna Wednesday, Sept. 29.