Home field for the Southern Interior Football Conference playoffs have been solidified for the Vernon Blue Magnums.
The Junior Bantam squad capped off an undefeated regular season Sunday at Greater Vernon Athletic Park, rolling over the Kelowna Red Grizzlies 37-0.
The Blue Magnums were determined to capture first place and started on the opening kickoff, recovering a fumble in the Kelowna half. Josh Vandenberg then took the ball on the next play and ran around the edge 40 yards for a 6-0 Vernon lead.
Vernon forced a turnover on Kelowna’s next possession deep in Magnums territory, thanks to timely pressure from Tanner Carr, Des Wishart locking down the outside and middle linebacker Caden O’Dwyer shutting down any play attempted up the middle.
The Magnums spread the ball around with nine different ball carriers in the first half and were able to methodically march down 80 yards due to reliable gains from big men Callum Eckland and Nate Goodfellow. It was O’Dwyer who got the ball into the end zone to make it 12-0 Vernon.
The visiting Grizzlies played hard but their offence couldn’t churn out any points against a loaded Vernon defensive unit, allowing opportunities for two scores before the half from Vernon slot receiver Nash Steele, the first a 42-yard scamper, and the next a reception from Oliver Harkness getting some reps at QB, who threw his first touchdown of the season before the half.
The third quarter was competitive with not many points being scored but both squads out there moving the ball and threatening. Many Magnum players carried for the first time in their careers and moved it effectively but old reliable veteran Owen West and Dayton Orr would not be held off the scoreboard as they broke tackles and hit the jets for scores late in the game to seal the victory and lock up home field advantage moving forward.
“Those O linemen work hard for us every game and are fun to watch carry the rock,” said an excited Magnums strength and conditioning coach Tyler O’Dwyer post-game. “If they keep pushing people around like they did today we might have to keep rewarding them with more touches.”
The Magnums do not play again until first round of playoffs to be held in Vernon, the opponent is TBD but the Magnums will likely have to win two tough games versus Kamloops and Kelowna if they wish to seal a trip to provincials in Langley early December.