With a win streak now at four games, the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers keep climbing the ladder in Senior AAA high school football’s Eastern Conference.
The Cloverdale team traveled to Kelowna last Friday night and defeated the Mt. Boucherie Bears 28-18 to improve to 4-1 (won-lost) and remain on contention for second place in their eight-team group.
“While we were never losing, we were never comfortable and had to continue to play hard to the end to seal the win and a playoff berth,” said Panthers head coach Kurt Thornton of the win over a 3-3 Bears team. “Boucherie battled back hard in the fourth quarter and pulled within 10 points twice.”
Caleb Abraham rushed for all four touchdowns on runs of three, five, seven and 27 yards, finishing with 132 yards on 19 carries. He was also a leader on defense with 13 tackles and a forced fumble.
Colton Zayshley carried the ball 12 times for 116 yards, and kicker Cam Sparkes was good on all four convert attempts.
Another defensive standout was Hayden Hamilton with 10 tackles and a pair of quarterback sacks.
“Boucherie played tough, physical football and they forced four turnovers,” said Thornton. “We had 10 possessions and scored four touchdowns. (But we also ) punted twice, fumbled twice (lost), and threw two picks.”
Still, the Panthers are in third place, and with a win at home Friday over the 5-1 St. Thomas More Knights will clinch second place and a bye through to the quarterfinals of the provincial playoffs.
“It is the last home game for our Grade 12s and when that is combined with playing a top rival, it should be a recipe for a terrific football game Friday afternoon,” said Thornton. “This game will show whether or not this group belongs in the upper echelon of AAA or not.”
The keys to winning, Thornton said, will be winning the turnover battle, controlling the clock and limiting big plays from their opponents. A second-place finish would match the previous best by a Lord Tweedsmuir team at the Senior AA level, accomplished last season.
“It will be an emotional game for our players and one big key will be playing with controlled emotion,” said Thornton. “I want my guys to be emotional and play with passion, but we need to funnel the emotion into hard, smart physical play in order to have a chance in this game.
“I can’t wait for Friday.”