Fall is in the air and football has returned to Salmon Arm fields.
All three Salmon Arm Chargers minor Football teams kicked off their season with home games at Little Mountain Sports Field on Sunday, Sept. 10.
The Atom and Junior Bantam teams faced opponents from down Highway 97 in Vernon while the PeeWees faced a strong Kamloops team.
The first game for the Atom Chargers against the visiting Vernon Magnums was a thrill-a-minute contest that was close down to the final seconds.
After an early exchange of touchdowns the Chargers pulled out a lead in the second quarter, but were burned on a long end-around run by Vernon.
The players didn’t let it phase them and stuffed the running conversion attempt to keep the score tied up 13-13.
Back on the offence just after the two-minute warning of the first half, the Chargers drove deep into Vernon’s end of the field only to have their quarterback sacked, leading to a turnover on downs.
The Charger defence took over with a vengeance, forcing a fumble and recovering it, leaving the offence with a short field and seconds to go in the half.
They made the most of it with #47 Ashton Gowan crashing in for the touchdown. The Chargers made the conversion giving them the lead heading into the second half.
The Magnums rallied tying the game and then scoring a touchdown in the final 50 seconds of the match.
The Chargers got the ball back with 40 seconds to go but couldn’t tie the game back up. The final score was 26-20 Vernon.
“Congrats to both teams for an exciting action packed first game of the year,” said Atom head coach Chris Lawson.
The PeeWee team suffered a tough loss to a very strong Kamloops side.
The Junior Bantam team took the field with only 14 players, a real test of endurance for the 12 and 13 year olds.
Junior Bantam head coach Tony Pereira described the team as “under-manned but not under-powered.”
The opening kickoff was poorly covered by the Chargers, leading to an early six-point lead for the Vernon Marauders.
“That setback simply woke up the Chargers as they quickly shut down the Vernon offence and ran over the Vernon defence,” Pereira said.
The Chargers had given themselves lots of breathing room, racking up a 19-6 lead in the opening half. By the end of the third quarter their lead had grown to 31-6.
Exhaustion began taking it’s toll on the Chargers and Vernon closed the gap to 31-18 in the fourth quarter, but the tough Salmon Arm defence protected the lead and delivered the win.
Pereira said standout players for the Chargers were their running back and linebacker core — Dom Kemitzis, Tristan Verny, Riley McEowin and Ethan McPherson.
Quarterback Cohen Boyd also played a strong game.
Although they are energized with an early win, Pereira said the Junior Bantam team’s 14-man roster is at the bare minimum and they will need to recruit more players.
Players aged 12-13 can contact Pereira at 250-833-6338 for more information.
All three Chargers teams will be on home turf again on Sunday Sept. 17 as they each face a Kelowna Lions side.
The Chargers’ home stand continues on Sept. 24 as the West Kelowna Tiger Cats come to town.