KAMLOOPS — It’s a cross-river rivalry that’s been going on for forty years or more. Last night, the Westsyde Blue Wave welcomed the SKSS Titans to Westsyde Secondary field for the fifth annual Friday Night Lights game.
The annual game can draw upwards of 2000 fans out on a chilly fall evening. For some WSS alumni, it’s an opportunity to relive their glory days.
“I graduated here in ’79,” Andy Collins told CFJC Today. “I played two years of senior and two years of junior football here at the great Westsyde. The fact that we get all the guys who have been here since day one, everyone comes out to support. Westsyde is a great community, and the football programs all over Kamloops are outstanding.”
Back then, of course, the game would have been between the Kam High Red Devils and the Westsyde Whundas. Kamloops Broncos head coach Brad Yamaoka would have cut his teeth in some of those storied tilts for Kam High before he moved on to play at UBC and eventually for the BC Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL.
“These were the games you always got up for,” Yamaoka remembered. “They were the big games of the year. We had the Wendy’s Cup when I played, and they were battles.”
For Jamie Bennett, one of the coaches of the Westsyde Blue Wave, his football career has come full circle.
“The best thing I can remember is my two senior years, beating Kam High,” Bennett said. “Best feeling ever. I can sort of say I have a winning record against them”
Bennett would go on to play with the Okanagan Sun, as well as some collegiate football down in California, and on Friday night he was officially inducted into the Westsyde Athletics Hall of Fame
“It’s fantastic. It’s been a long time volunteering, I played here, and I just want to give back. It’s a nice note,” Bennett said, after being inducted.
Now that his playing days are done, Bennett is happy to give back by passing on some of that knowledge of the game to the next generation. He hopes to help grow the game of football in the city of Kamloops, so the tradition of the WSS Friday Night Lights game can continue.
“Westsyde, Kam High — or South Kam now — we’re just trying to promote the game, get it back to its height, where it was in the 1980’s,” Bennett said. “It’s a great game.”
Bennett and the Blue Wave kept that winning record intact, last night. They topped the Titans 32-14.
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