A late start has kept the Penticton midget Cougars from being better prepared but they are excited.
On Sunday, the football team will kick off its first game in the Southern Interior Football League against the Cranbrook Rams, and quarterback Kyle Patan is glad for that. The Cougars enjoyed success against the East Kootenay team and will face them at McNicoll Park at noon.
What gives Patan excitement is that the Cougars have a lot of the same players from last season to build from. The Cougars were one victory from advancing to provincials last season, but were blown out at McNicoll Park by the Salmon Arm Chargers.
“We are all pretty confident that we are going to go about as far as we did last year,” said Patan. “We are confident in making the playoffs again.”
Lorraine Sopow, secretary of the Cougars, said she feels they have a solid team.
“We have a lot of really strong boys. Some have come back and some are new,” she said. “They are a very committed bunch. We will have a good season.”
Patan added that the younger players will only make the team stronger as they gain more experience.
“By the time they are veterans, we will go farther than anyone thought then when we started the program,” he said.
Among the things the Cougars need to work on is their offensive line. Patan would like to see bigger players join.
“We have good speed, we have good ball carriers and our passing is better than our running,” he said.
While things look good for the midgets, the same can’t be said for the lower programs. The organization needs to develop the younger players. At the peewee and junior bantam level, they didn’t have enough players to field teams.
“We need to bring those up,” Sopow stressed. “If we don’t have players starting young to develop through the program, we will not have a program in Penticton. Football is just too important to lose.”
The problem comes from timing. Sopow has received calls the last two weeks from parents but that is too late to get teams into the league. Sopow said a lot of parents don’t know about football yet. The Cougars are seeking players aged nine to 11 for peewee and 12 to 13 for the junior bantam program.
“We need to get out in the schools and get it out there that we do have tackle football here,” she said. “It’s a very viable sport.”
The Cougars organization is also seeking game officials, volunteers and someone willing to perform first aid when needed at home games.
For more info, Lorraine Sopow can be contacted at 250-494-2229.