Local high school teams hurting for players

It appears the Okanagan AA Varsity football season will feature only two Kamloops teams.

The Valleyview Vikings and NorKam Saints will carry the city's hopes into the varsity season. The South Kamloops Titans won't field a team this year because of a shortage of players.

Dean MacDonald, head coach of the Titans, couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, but said Wednesday that South Kam was "on the bubble" in terms of players for the season.

The Titans were scheduled to play the Windsor Dukes in North Vancouver today, but the game has been cancelled and the Titans have been removed from the B.C. High School Football website (bchighschoolfootball.com).

The Vikings, meanwhile, will open their non-conference season today, 4 p.m., against the Kelowna-Rutland Voodoos at Valleyview.

Cory Bymoen, head coach of the Vikings, said his team doesn't have an abundance of players, but has more than enough to compete in the league. He stopped short of calling his team one of the better ones in the conference, which features seven teams, but seemed optimistic.

"There's a lot of potential with this group," Bymoen said. "We have a lot of Grade 12s and some good Grade 11s, guys who have been playing football for four or five years."

Two teams will qualify for the postseason.

The Saints are a little short of players this season, but head coach Todd Graham is expecting a lot.

Graham would love to have 25 to 30 players out at practice, but is happy with the players he has. Five of them are Grade 9 callups from Brocklehurst Middle School, something that is allowed under provincial rules because Brock is a feeder school for NorKam.

"We're going to be Grade 11-heavy," Graham said, noting that his quarterback, Brent Pollock, is back for another season.

"He was our quarterback last year, played as a Grade 9. He has experience with the offence, which is a good place to start."

The Vikings likely will start senior Adam Aselstyne at quarterback today, but Grade 10 Lliam Wishart will get a bunch of snaps throughout the season.

Valleyview's regular season is scheduled to start Sept. 23 against the Vernon Panthers.

Bymoen said the Panthers, Saints and Vikings will be solid this season, as will the Vernon-Kalamalka Lakers, whose head coach, Brad Yamaoka, is a former CFLer from Kamloops.

A lot of Valleyview's load will fall on Braden James, who will be playing running back and middle linebacker.

"If he's healthy, we're looking good," Bymoen said. "He's a man among boys . . . he weighs 217 pounds - that's a bit of a load."

And while the Saints are low on numbers and still quite young, Graham's expectations aren't any lower. NorKam's season-opener is scheduled for Sept. 16 against the Kelowna-Okanagan Mission Huskies.

"I'm hoping, this year, we can make the playoffs, get into the top-two," he said. "Then, hopefully we can carry it over into next year, when we'll have a lot of Grade 12s, and maybe get the No. 1 seed."

According to the B.C. High School Football website, Kamloops will have three teams in the junior varsity division - the Titans, Vikings and Westsyde Blue Wave.

MacDonald said the South Kam juniors have had 30 players out, but the coach is hesitant to bring younger players up for the varsity season.

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca

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