Dean MacDonald is frustrated, disappointed and a little baffled after the South Kamloops Titans varsity football team cancelled its high school season.
MacDonald, the Titans' head coach, said Thursday that he couldn't get enough players out to field a team. South Kam had 18 players practising, not nearly enough for what would have been a seven-game season.
"We couldn't get the 20 or 25 (players) we needed," MacDonald said. "That's not enough to get it done. . . . You've got special teams, guys going both ways - the situation would have meant some injuries.
"I've seen some teams go through this and try to make it work, then fold halfway through the season."
The Titans went 1-2 in the Okanagan AA Varsity division last season, missing the playoffs. In 2011, they went 4-2, despite almost cancelling the season due to a lack of players.
South Kam was saved when a few players signed up late in 2011, but there was no chance of that happening this time. The Titans were to open their exhibition schedule today against the Kelly Road Roadrunners in Prince George.
"We let our kids know that we needed 20-25," MacDonald said. "It's disappointing . . . a lot of kids we thought were going to come out just didn't.
"It's frustrating and disappointing - we're a large school, and we can't get 20-25 kids out."
A lot of those players were ones expected to move up from the Okanagan-champion junior squad from 2012. For whatever reason, they just didn't materialize.
"Our junior team won the Okanagan last year, that's why this is so mind-boggling," MacDonald said. "I just wonder why you would win Okanagans and not play senior."
Over the past few years, it has become more difficult to find players willing to commit to high school football programs, despite the presence of a community football league in the Interior. MacDonald wonders if the workload isn't a little much for teenagers with a lot of irons in different fires.
"It's hard to find kids willing to commit to five days of practice a week, two hours a day, and a game on the weekend," MacDonald said.
Peter Mercuri is in charge of a healthy Titans junior program, which now features 26 players.
But the 18 senior players are without a team, although they have the option of attending Valleyview and playing for the Vikings. MacDonald doesn't envision that happening, but he does have sympathy for the players who won't get to play their senior seasons.
MacDonald still hopes that he'll be able to get enough players out to field a team in 2014.
"By all means," he said. "We've got a good junior program - hopefully they'll come up to senior (next year)."