KAMLOOPS — Two days after cleaning up their lockers, handing in their equipment, and having their exit meetings, senior football players at South Kam are getting a second chance.
Wednesday marks their first time back on the field since their season ended last Friday in a win against Westsyde. It's a practice the players didn't expect after missing the playoffs in the Interior at 2-2.
"Super weird for us. We were playing the spoiler role on Friday. We're happy to get that win," said Titans head coach JP Lancaster. "Certainly weird to have to re-issue equipment to the guys yesterday."
The Titans were notified on Tuesday they will, in fact, be playing in the postseason after the fourth-place team in Eastern Conference, Samuel Robertson Tech in Maple Ridge, forfeited its spot.
The BC Secondary Schools Football Association determined South Kam was the next most competitive AA team, finishing just outside the playoffs but ahead of Westsyde based on the head-to-head tiebreaker. This weekend the Titans will travel up to Prince George to play in a wildcard game.
"We were deemed the next most competitive, playoff-worthy team out of all AA football and we were awarded their berth," said Lancaster. "We're now competing as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference as opposed to the Interior Conference."
However, with the travel comes great expense, something the program didn't budget for. Head coach JP Lancaster put out a call to the football community for donations, and within 24 hours the team has fundraised the $2,000 it needs to cover the trip.
"It'll cover of good chunk of it. We're having to get a charter bus," noted Lancaster. "Then we'll be staying in a hotel, so that should cover a huge portion of it. The league does give us a travel allowance, which should make up the rest."
Lancaster wants to make football affordable for the players, who pay out of their pocket and fundraise for any extra costs during the season. He wanted to lean on the football community to support the team's playoff trip to PG.
"It would be nice not to burn the kids any further. We're trying to make high school football a very affordable, including sport for everyone, regardless of what their financial background is," he said.
Lancaster feels the playoff spot is vindication following a 14-3 loss to Vernon's Fulton Secondary School in the regular season-opener. It was a game the Titans knew could determine who would earn one of two Interior spots in the playoffs. Lancaster says they could've won if not for a long touchdown pass and punt return being called back on what he says were questionable calls.
"Maybe the football Gods are smiling on us. We felt on the Fulton game, there were a couple calls that went against us that might not have happened if the game was in Kamloops," he said. "It's nice that our season isn't being defined by that."
If the Titans win this weekend, they'll advance to the provincial AA quarter-finals against Holy Cross. Lancaster says trips to Vancouver, where a hotel stay is not required, is completely manageable financially.
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