The Kamloops Broncos gained some much-needed confidence in their latest B.C. Football Conference loss, and Grady Chalmers set a league record for blocked kicks.
The Broncos lost their fifth straight game Sunday, 48-41 to the Westshore Rebels in Victoria. While it doesn't look good, the Broncos were excited after playing their best second half of the season in making a game out of what had been a 41-7 shellacking.
Kamloops also made some history, as Chalmers, a third-year linebacker out of Valleyview, blocked three Quinn Van Glyswyk field goals, setting the BCFC mark and tying the Canadian Junior Football League record.
"It was cool to watch," said Broncos head coach Duncan Olthuis. "To see Grady break a record set in 1958 was pretty amazing."
What was amazing was Chalmers' effort - not only did he block those three kicks, he also recorded a quarterback sack and scooped up two fumbles. One of those fumble recoveries, early in the second half, was for a touchdown, and helped turn the tide for the Broncos.
Chalmers downplayed his role in the Broncos' strong second half.
"I was just doing anything I could to help the team," he said. "I wanted to get the ball to the offence so they could get us back into the game, and they did."
Chalmers, who caught a bug on the bus ride back to Kamloops and had to miss Monday's video session, now has four career blocked kicks.
Olthuis said Chalmers sets up second from the left side on the Broncos' line of scrimmage for field goals. On each of his blocks, he was able to sneak past the outside blocker with a clear path to the kicker.
Chalmers could understand the Rebels allowing him a free path to the kicker once, maybe twice. But for the third time in one game?
"I was a little surprised," he admitted. "They had an extra blocker, and they kept sending him to the other side."
Chalmers certainly wasn't the only player to enjoy an excellent game Sunday.
Rebels defender Braeden Swatez tied the BCFC and CJFL records by knocking down five passes in what was the 120th victory in Rebels franchise history.
For the Broncos, Derek Apps set the Broncos' record for kick return yards with 228, which is the fourth-highest total in BCFC history. Among Apps' yards was a team-record 104-yard return to inside the Rebels' five-yard line - Van Gylswyk chased him down and made the touchdown-saving tackle.
The Broncos also got an excellent game out of quarterback Connor Whitelaw, who recently joined the team after red-shirting for the NCAA's Simon Fraser Clan last season. Whitelaw, a South Kamloops grad, went 11-for-19 for 220 yards and two touchdowns to Carter Bilawchuk. Bilawchuk ended with four receptions for 141 yards and the two touchdowns.
Individual efforts aside, Olthuis was pleased with how the Broncos played in the second half.
"It was great - we came out and battled," said the second-year head coach. "I think the team discovered how to fight back into a game."
Now, Olthuis is hoping his team can fight back into the win column when it plays the Okanagan Sun in Kelowna on Saturday. Both teams are 1-5 and tied for the final playoff spot in the BCFC.
"We both have four games left, and Okanagan is coming off a stretch of difficult games against tough teams," Olthuis said. "We know that we have to play like we did in the second half against Westshore."
EXTRA POINTS: Thirteen players have recorded two blocked kicks in a game - among them are RB Andrew Harris of the Vancouver Island Raiders, who did it against the Broncos on Aug. 1, 2009, (he now plays for the B.C. Lions) and former Broncos LB Kameron Taylor, who did it twice in 2007, a season in which he would set the BCFC record with six blocked kicks. The first person to block two kicks in a game was Tom Walker of the North Shore Cougars, who did so in a game against the Marpole Colts on Sept. 15, 1958. . . . Vancouver Island QB Jordan Yantz set the CJFL record for career passing yards on Saturday, when he threw for 268 in a 44-28 victory over the Sun in Kelowna. Yantz now has 9,405 yards, surpassing the mark set by QB John Makie, who played for the Regina Thunder and Vancouver Trojans from 2001-04.