The Abbotsford Panthers are heading to the AA provincial semi-finals.
Star running back Samwel Uko had four touchdowns, Anthony Phan grabbed two and Karl von Einsiedel caught one to lead the Panthers to the win.
Phan, who also had a strong game at the defensive end, set the tone on the game’s first drive with a 40-yard touchdown pass that saw him cut through the Trojans defence. He said getting on the board early helped the team’s confidence.
“It brought us up and got the team going,” he said, after the game. “[Offensive lineman] Johnny Stevenson made a huge block for me on that touchdown, if it wasn’t for him there’s no way I would have scored that.”
Phan’s second touchdown, the final major of the game, was a perfect pass by quarterback Ethan Anderson into the corner of the end zone. Phan said Anderson continues to impress as a Grade 10.
“He sees everything out there and has such vision – he’s a great QB,” he said. “He’s so young but has so much talent, we have full trust in him.”
Uko was another big story in the game, and his most impressive run was an 87-yard scamper in the second quarter. He was also a big factor defensively, stripping a ball from a Trojans player to end a critical drive in the second quarter.
Panthers head coach Jay Fujimura said his team got better as the game went on.
“We came out and a had a little bit of nerves but they settled down and we stuck to the game plan,” he said. “We pushed heavy on our run and it opened up our passing. Defensively we shut down their key guys and it was a good effort.”
Fujimura said he shifted over the team’s defensive passing coverage early in the game after giving up several big passing plays in the first quarter.
The Panthers now take on the Vernon Secondary School Panthers next Saturday at B.C. Place. The two teams haven’t met this season, but they did meet in an exhibition game back in 2016. Abbotsford beat Vernon 48-16 in that game, which occurred on Sept. 24, 2016 in Vernon.
“They were a tough team with a lot of big bodies,” Phan recalled. “It’ll be a tough game.”
Vernon finished first in the Okanagan AA division, with a perfect record of three wins and no losses.
For more on this game and the semi-final, read Wednesday’s print edition of the Abbotsford News.
Slideshow by: Ben Lypka