There are two truths in the game of football.
The first is an old Paul (Bear) Bryant quote: Defense wins championships.
The second is unattributed: Turnovers will kill you.
You can expect both to be paramount in the Vernon Panthers’ Subway Bowl plan.
The Vernon Secondary School varsity team is returning to the pinnacle of provincial 2A high school football to defend its current title.
“We got to do three things,” Panthers head coach Sean Smith told Global News.
“We gotta stop the run, we gotta stop the run and we gotta stop the run.”
Vernon’s opponent in Saturday’s game, the Langley Saints, do one thing, and one thing only.
“Run the ball, every play,” said Panthers lineman Brady Szeman.
And so Vernon must stop the Saints before they go marching in — to the end zone.
“They are very good running team with a running back that far and away led the province in rushing,” said Smith.
He’s talking about the Saints’ Kai Thomas, who rumbled for 1,736 yards and 24 touchdowns in nine games this season.
That equates to an average of 192.8 yards and 2.6 touchdowns per game.
“They have the biggest offensive line that I’ve ever seen at the high-school level,” Smith said of Langley.
And so he’s drilled the mantra of ‘stop the run’ into his Panthers.
But the Pride on the Hill, as the Panthers’ are known, are no house cats when it comes to dining on opponents at the Subway Bowl.
The big cats have eaten more than their fair share of championship sandwiches.
“They’ve done a lot of winning; they know how to win the big games,” Smith said of his players.
Game time on Saturday is 4 p.m., at B.C. Place, where the Panthers will look to repeat as champions by trying to stop the run.