The South Kamloops Titans varsity football team picked up its first victory of 2012 on Friday at Hillside Stadium.
At this point a year ago, the Titans were a team in name only.
South Kam opened its non-conference season with a 17-3 victory over the Prince George-Kelly Road Roadrunners. The Titans are off to Abbotsford next Friday to take on the Robert Bateman Timberwolves in another exhibition tilt.
The victory over Kelly Road was about as unremarkable and straightforward as they come - the really remarkable thing is the number of players on the Titans' roster this season.
South Kam dressed 30 players last night, a decent number for a team that struggled to get enough bodies to field a team last season.
"We're pretty raw, we're pretty young, but we've got lots of kids," said South Kam head coach Dean MacDonald. "We have more than 30 coming out, which, for our program, is pretty good."
Last season, the Titans were on the verge of folding after low turnouts at early season practices.
Macdonald scraped together a team at the last minute, and it came through to win four of its six Okanagan AA games.
"By the end of it, we were OK," MacDonald said. "We just took a while to get going. This (the numbers) is encouraging. It's great to see the kids out."
Friday's effort, while unpolished and not overly efficient, should be a good starting block for a young team looking to build.
The Titans will open their Okanagan AA season on Sept. 28, when the Vernon-Kalamalka Lakers visit Hillside Stadium.
"They're learning the game," MacDonald said. "Football's not instilled in them yet . . . but we're working on it."
The Titans were clearly the better team on Friday, but struggled to score on a Kelly Road team that only brought 17 players to town.
South Kam managed 167 yards total offence, while the defence limited Kelly Road to negative-12 yards and no first downs.
"Todd Graham, who was coaching at NorKam, is helping us, with NorKam not having a program this year," MacDonald said. "He's coaching our defence, doing a great job with the D."
The Roadrunners scored the only points of the first half when Duncan Blagdon booted a 20-yard field goal off the right upright and in for a 3-0 lead.
South Kam pressed in the second quarter, but Kelly Road's Tristin Appler picked off a pass on the goal-line to stop a nice Kamloops drive.
Jacob Adams got the Titans going in the second half - after the South Kam defence stopped the Roadrunners on their first possession, Adams returned a punt to the three-yard line. On the next play, Malkolm Alburquenque sprinted in for a 7-3 lead.
Later in the third quarter, another punt return - this one came courtesy of a nice rush and a bad kick - took the Titans to the eight-yard line, where quarterback Evan Choy hit Adams for a touchdown.
"We've got some good receivers and three or four running backs," MacDonald said. "Right now, they've just got to learn football and get some reps and they've got to practise, practise, practise."
EXTRA POINTS: South Kam K Anthony Arduini made two extra-points and also converted a 26-yard field goal. . . . Former South Kam/Kam High football coach Brian Olthuis worked as an official during the game. With the NFL using replacement officials to start the season, Olthuis might be in line to get a phone call from commissioner Roger Goodell.