Alumni helping SouthKam football team return to winning

By Chad Klassen
September 19, 2017 - 6:06pm

KAMLOOPS — The year was 1990. 

The Kam High Red Devils were once again atop the football world, led by running back Brad Yamoaka and head coach Brian Olthuis.

"90 I remember a little bit more because my brother was the quarterback then," said Duncan Olthuis, son of Brian Olthuis. "I was a little bit older and can remember the feeling of my brother and dad winning a championship."

Olthuis went on to play with Kam High in 1997 and 1998 before going to the University of Saskatchewan to play football on the Prairies. 

He's now one of the alumni that's come back, helping coach in the hopes of bringing football at SouthKam back to its glory days. 

"It's nice. The name's not there anymore with the Red Devils, but it's still in the history," said Olthuis. "It's nice to be back at the school. My family has a huge history here with my dad coaching and teaching here for 35 years. My brother going here, my sister going here, and me going here."

J.P. Lancaster is the head coach of the junior and senior Titans football teams, a John Peterson football alum who has taken it upon himself to try and guide the Titans back to winning.

"What it did for me going through high school, the lessons that I took away from it," said Lancaster. "A guy in the news recently, Dave Gracey who recently passed away. That man had a tremendous impact on my life as a young teenager. So I felt it was my duty to come back and give back to the game."

Starting Titans' quarterback Brody Israel said Lancaster, Olthuis, and the other alumni coaches have made all the difference. 

"It means everything. J.P. and Jesse [Faubert], and Duncan this year," said Israel. "J.P. and Jesse have been working with me since I was in Grade 10 and they've really rebuilt this program. They're taking this program to a whole other level to where we used to be."

Olthuis said after junior highs were eliminated in Kamloops, Kam High lost a good chunk of potential players, spreading out the student population to Sahali and Valleyview Secondaries. 

The Titans, who compete in AA B.C. High School Football, folded in 2013 due to a lack of players. They returned the next year and have been building slowly since, and the coaching staff full of alumni has high hopes for the future of SouthKam football.

"Now we're at a point again where we have numbers," said Lancaster. "I cut my coaching teeth with Hugh Boyd Secondary in Richmond. I played for the UBC Thunderbirds. I'm trying to bring some of those standards and how those Lower Mainland teams are run, bringing that back here. So I think we're at a point where we have numbers and we have kids who can respond to that."

Israel said the program is heading in the right direction. 

"Back to where we were? I'm not sure how long it will take," he said. "I mean, it'll probably take a few more years at least, but I mean we're really building this program. You see all these young kids out here. There's going to be a lot of great talent coming through this program."

Kamloops football community says contact in practice is necessary