Vernon running back Charles Lemay le-slayed the Wolves defence with a 90-yard rushing touchdown on Vernon’s first drive, and he added another rushing touchdown after a Bateman turnover minutes later.
Lemay scored all five Panthers majors in the first half to build to a 34-0, and Vernon cruised to the 48-12 win. It’s the first-ever senior varsity title for the program.
Bateman looked better in the second half, with Logan McDonald putting the team on his back for a pair of drives that resulted in touchdowns. The graduating pivot tossed touchdown passes to Markus Rauch and Ryan Sztuhar to get the Wolves on the board.
The game was delayed over an hour after injuries in earlier games led to a later start. Bateman head coach David Mills said the first half was disastrous to his team.
“That was about as rough a first half as I think I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, and Vernon came out firing on all cylinders. I don’t think we were quite ready for it.”
Mills praised the play of the Panthers and Lemay.
“Full credit to them for the win,” he said. “Maybe there was a bit of jitters from our guys, but Vernon has been there before and they have more experience. We knew he [Lemay] was the most outstanding player in the province and he showed what he was all about today.”
Despite the loss, Mills said his team’s turnaround and the title run has been a memorable ride.
“To go from where we were last year to this year has been amazing,” he said, referencing Bateman’s winless regular season in 2017. “I think when we look back in a few years this will be looked at as the year we turned around the program.”
He noted that most of the offensive line and running back Phoenix Moller will be back for 2019. The game marked the end of the high school football career of McDonald, Sam Davenport, Andres Guzman, Ethan Kryska, Sztuhar, Jared Mueller, Theo Chapman, Rauch, Sean Bedford, Chris Martin, Andrew McClelland and Jordan Bahm.
Read Wednesday’s print edition of the Abbotsford News for more.