The high school football season is upon us.
The Valleyview Vikings will kick off their AA varsity preseason on Friday, 1:30 p.m., against the Delta-Seaquam Seahawks at Hillside Stadium. Valleyview will play a 10-game schedule, with the final six games being Okanagan Conference matchups.
Valleyview is one of three local teams in the Okanagan Conference - the South Kamloops Titans and Westsyde Blue Wave also are signed up. South Kam and Westsyde each has seven conference games scheduled, according to the B.C. High School Football Association website.
The Okanagan Conference also will feature the Vernon-Clarence Fulton Maroons and Vernon Panthers, the Kelowna-Okanagan Mission Huskies and the Cranbrook-Mount Baker Wild. The Salmon Arm Golds will play an exhibition conference schedule.
"We're pretty good," said Valleyview head coach Cory Bymoen. "We got a lot of guys back - two-thirds of the team are Grade 12s, so we're older than last year."
That's a good sign for the Vikings, who were solid in 2012, going 3-1 in conference before losing a playoff game to the Pitt Meadows Marauders. That game, at B.C. Place in Vancouver, was a good one, with Pitt winning 28-21. Valleyview will look for revenge in its third exhibition game, scheduled for Sept. 13 in Pitt Meadows.
This Valleyview team, with starting quarterback Lliam Wishart now in his Grade 12 season, has high hopes.
"We were probably somewhat satisfied with how we finished last year," Bymoen said. "I don't think the same results would be as satisfying this year, so, yes, the expectations are higher."
Wishart was named the top Grade 11 offensive player in the Interior Conference in 2012. He'll be surrounded by a solid offence, Bymoen said, including versatile backs/receivers Morgan Motokado, Jordan Comeau, Mason Harding and Alex Beckett.
The offence has been working hard with Brad Yamaoka, a former CFLer from Kamloops who coached the Vernon-Kalamalka Lakers to top spot in the Okanagan Conference in 2012. Yamaoka recently moved back to Kamloops, bringing tons of football knowledge along.
"He's done a lot of work with these guys," Bymoen said. "They look good."
After Friday's game, the Vikings will play host to the Huskies on Sept. 6, 3 p.m., at Valleyview, before games in Pitt Meadows and against the Windsor Dukes in North Vancouver. Their regular-season will open against Salmon Arm on Sept. 27.
The Titans' schedule opens Sept. 20, when Mount Baker comes to town. South Kam also will play home games against Westsyde on Sept. 27, Fulton on Oct. 4 and Valleyview on Nov. 1.
The Blue Wave's first scheduled game is Sept. 13, against the host Burnaby-Moscrop Panthers, before playing host to Vernon on Sept. 20 and meeting the Titans on Sept. 27. Westsyde also is at home against the Wild on Oct. 4, the Vikings on Oct. 18 and Salmon Arm on Nov. 1.