By John DeCoste
Neither the wet weather nor the final score – 51-7 in favour of Lockview – could dampen the spirit surrounding the first-ever high school football game at West Kings District High on Sept. 8.
It was sometimes tough to notice in the rain, but a lot of work has been done on the field, which was in great shape. As well, a good crowd, including many students and staff, braved the weather to cheer on the brand new team.
While the end result might have been predicted – Lockview’s football program is well established and has been around for a while – West Kings’s Kyle Gordon did manage to score a touchdown on a running play.
“I’m a football fan, and I’m a fan of young people having as many opportunities as possible,” said West Kings principal Barry Squires, who welcomed everyone in attendance on behalf of the school.
Making football at West Kings a reality “has been a real community effort,” Squires said. He added that the players – 33 boys and one girl – and everyone else connected with the team “are really excited.”
The coaching staff, headed by Aaron Evans, is committed to making West Kings football a success, even though most have no children on the team.
“I’m impressed with the coaches, their experience and what they bring to the team. I’ve really enjoyed working with Aaron and Mark (Gordon),” Squires said.
He sees football and other school sports as “a great thing to foster student involvement in the school community and increase school spirit. And it was great to see so many people out, despite the rainy weather.”
Bernie Blanchard, whose son Gerry plays on the team, was among the minor officials working the sidelines.
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s nice to see them out there – and it’s nice to see the rain let up for a while.”
Blanchard agreed there had been “a lot of work by a lot of people” over the past couple of years to make football at West Kings happen. “It’s nice to finally see them get to play.”
Warren Armstrong – a West Kings alumnus, Class of 1974 – was also on the sidelines.
“I think it’s great. We didn’t have any football when I was here,” he said. “I had to come. I wouldn’t have missed seeing this.”
Darnice Strickland, selling 50-50 tickets on the sidelines, also has a son, Tyler, on the team, and has been active with the West Kings Football booster club.
“It’s been awesome,” she said. “So much effort and work getting here.”
The players have also been part of that effort, she said, including volunteering to help with the field.
There has been “a great group of parents” and supporters in the booster club, “and the support from the community has been great – rain or shine, obviously.”