Two days removed from his team’s 63-7 playoff loss to the Vancouver Island Raiders, Duncan Olthuis was looking for positives in the Kamloops Broncos’ 2013 season.
It wasn’t a storybook season for the junior football team but there were a few firsts and certainly successes to build on moving forward.
“Our goal at the start of the season was to get to the playoffs and we made that goal, but how we got there was a little disappointing,” Olthuis said Monday. “It felt like a good season but record-wise it wasn’t that great, we believe we should have been 5-5 at worst.
“But going into next season we can build on this for sure, it’s a great learning experience for our kids to get to the playoffs and see what they have to do to actually get there . . . what they have to do to be competitive in this league.”
The playoff berth was the first in Broncos history and Olthuis hopes it can be used as a recruiting tool for future seasons. About 45 of the team’s 60 players from this season will be returning in 2014 but there could be some important slots that will need to be filled.
On defence, linemen Landon McKim and Steven Liss have aged-out, as has linebacker Grady Chalmers.
Offensive lineman Cam Brown is entertaining the possibility of heading to the CIS next season and Olthuis said that receivers Derek Yachison and Devin Csincsa and running-back Jacob Palmarin also have opportunities they could pursue. Olthuis indicated he expects Palmarin to return.
Brown, Yachison, Palmarin and defensive lineman Braden McCarthy have also all received invites to the B.C. Lions’ junior evaluation camp next spring.
“We like to see those kids go on to those type of goals they have in football,” Olthuis said.
“It’s great to have them back but one of our goals as well is to get kids on to other levels.”
Next season the focus will be to build on this season’s successes, while improving in other areas. Olthuis said that focus in practice could have been better this year — something that’s difficult to manage with a small coaching staff — and may have contributed to the team’s under-performance in the regular season.
And now that the team has had a taste of the postseason there will be greater expectations placed on future performances. The Broncos were happy to reach the playoffs this year but would have liked to have fared better and will be expected to down the road.
“On defence we were totally out-manned, they could just do whatever they wanted,” Olthuis said, referring to Kamloops’ game against Vancouver Island. He said the Raiders “were just men, basically,” overpowering the Broncos and while Kamloops’ offence was able to march the ball effectively, it had difficulty finishing drives and putting up points.
All that is in the rear-view mirror now and the focus will now shift to the 2014 Broncos.
“It’s a good stepping stone for our organization,” Olthuis said.