Saturday was a time to reflect and also look to the future for the Abbotsford Panthers senior varsity football team.
The club hosted the Notre Dame Jugglers at Panther Field for an exhibition game, and also an opportunity to journey to the past.
It was 35 years ago that the same two teams met at Empire Field in Vancouver for a provincial title game – the lone championship game that the Panthers have ever won.
That team was honoured on Saturday, with many of the players who earned that provincial title gathering at Panther Field to celebrate a milestone.
The team those championship veterans saw facing off against the Panthers on Saturday was the same team that they took down on Nov. 30, 1984: the Notre Dame Jugglers.
The exhibition game provided a little bit of that same Panthers magic. Abbotsford trailed the Jugglers 10-0 at halftime, but the Panthers roared back in the second half to earn the 20-16 win.
Panthers star running back Jalem Catlin collected 101 yards rushing, while full back Silvestro Aging ran for 51 yards and scored two touchdowns. Connor Meher also scored a Panthers touchdown on a 65-yard punt return.
Defensively, it was Jordan Hogg leading the way with six tackles and three sacks. Luke Pearson had five tackles and two sacks, and Blake Neufeld collected six tackles and one sack.
The win improved the Panthers to a perfect 2-0 in exhibition action so far in 2019. The team also scored a 34-14 win over the W.J. Mouat Hawks on Sept. 14.
The Panthers next open the AAA regular season on the road on Friday against Kelowna. They return home to host Centennial on Sept. 28.
Speaking of the Hawks, they improved to 1-1 in exhibition play after a 21-18 win over the Robert Bateman Timberwolves at Rotary Stadium on Friday night.
Bateman opened the scoring, as quarterback Ty Martens connected with receiver Conner Martin to put the Wolves up 6-0 at the half.
But it quickly became the Tyran Duval show in the second half, as the Hawks quarterback threw for two touchdowns to wide receiver Dhag Mora and then scored a rushing major of his own.
Bateman’s Phoenix Moller added a rushing touchdown and Andy Tran also caught a touchdown pass in the loss.
Mouat returns to exhibition play on Friday, when they travel to Surrey to battle Holy Cross. The Hawks’ exhibition schedule ends on Sept. 27, when they head to North Vancouver to take on Windsor Secondary. Mouat opens the AAA regular season on Oct. 4, when they host Nanaimo.
The Timberwolves, who also defeated Sullivan Heights 26-0 on Sept. 6, continue the exhibition schedule on Friday on the road against Ballenas. Bateman returns home to host South Kamloops on Sept. 27. The exhibition run concludes on Oct. 4 on the road against Argyle.
The Wolves open the regular season at home when Langley Secondary comes to town on Oct. 11.