Fulton grads Broden Romanovitch (from left)

Fulton five fuel Broncos’ success

The Kamloops Broncos tasted success for the first time in the B.C. Football Conference last season, and now they are hungry for more.

The Kamloops Broncos tasted success for the first time in the B.C. Football Conference last season, and now they are hungry for more.

The Broncos, featuring five Fulton Maroon grads – Mike Ochoa, Lucas Hofer, Kyle Richardson, Tanner Bishop and Broden Romanovitch – earned the team’s first-ever playoff berth after going a program-best 6-4. They finished third in the six-team Junior A circuit.

Hofer, 19, who started a couple games at halfback, was named the Broncos’ Special Teams Player of the Year. Given this award is usually handed out to a kicker or returner, it makes it a little more special for the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder.

“It’s odd that I got it,” said Hofer, who is taking electrical trades courses at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. “I had some good blocks and tackles though.

“We had a great year, and I’m really proud of them (Fulton contingent). It’s great to see friends continue to play and excel and get better.”

Hofer said Ochoa, a middle linebacker and defensive captain, narrowly missed out on earning Kamloops’ Top Defensive Player.

Richardson, a linebacker, led the Broncos with six tackles and three assists in their thrilling 48-46 BCFC semifinal loss to the second-place Langley Rams (7-3). Ochoa had one tackle and four assists and Hofer recorded a special teams tackle.

“It was cool,” said the 6-foot, 200-pound Richardson, of the playoff experience. “It really  makes you want to come back next year and do it all over again.

“We came really close in that first playoff game. It was pretty intense.”

Kamloops’ quarterback Steve Schuweiler’s 543 yards passing in that game set a new CJFL playoff record.

Where Richardson once relied on athleticism to overwhelm opponents, he had to develop other facets of his game to match up with faster, stronger, more experienced players in the BCFC. He has learned to study the linemen he goes up against to see if their body positioning gives any hint of the impending play.

“I learned to look at the line, the guards. If they pop up real fast, it’s usually a pass,” said Richardson, who started the last four games.

“You need to know the game a lot better than you did in high school. You can’t just get by on skill. It’s technique, footwork and being able to read an offence.”

The Fulton fivepack commuted to Kamloops five days a week for practice after work. Packing that much beef – Bishop, an offensive lineman, is the biggest of the bunch – into one car only worked for so long. Hofer eventually moved there to start school, which provided a bit of a reprieve.

“That’s a lot of weight. You could almost see it (car) dragging in the back,” laughed Hofer, who would sometimes drive his 2003 GrandAm after finishing a shift as a landscaper.

“We had a few cars break down (blew a tire, and hit a deer). I had AC. It was pretty hot in the summer. It was a lot of time in the sun.”

The Rams are one of three teams (the Okanagan Sun and Vancouver Island Raiders are the other two) that the Broncos have never beat. Hofer thinks that could change next year as Kamloops begins its seventh BCFC season.

“We’ve got the same quarterback (Schuweiler) and he’s one of the best in the league. We’ve got a skilled corps coming back so we should have a pretty good year.”

On a personal note, Hofer added: “I want to be starting. I think it’s possible. We’re losing some of the starting guys and I’m training hard for it.”

The Broncos will have a new head coach next season as Duncan Olthuis stepped aside to pursue other commitments. Moving up from assistant is former CFLer Brad Yamaoka, who spent some time with the senior boys Kalamalka Lakers before the program folded.

“Brad grew up in Kamloops and played in the CFL. He’s kind of a hometown hero so it made sense,” said Hofer, of the former Winnipeg Blue Bomber and B.C. Lion.

Richardson likes Yamaoka’s style, saying: “He’s very assertive and gets things done in a certain way.”

Hofer and Richardson agreed playing for the Broncos was an easy choice (Hofer tried out for the Sun as well). They felt there was more opportunity for playing time, and they could keep the Fulton gang together.

“A lot of guys from Vernon have become interested in the last couple of years,” said Richardson.

“You’re more likely to get more playing time with a team that’s still building.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Federal minister to speak in Vernon

Greater Vernon Chamber welcomes middle class prosperity minister to talk money

Vernon PAC takes stand against dating violence

KSS to host presentation to equip parents with tools to spot unhealthy, violent relationships

VIDEO: Vernon man says stranger breaks in while family slept

Resident shares doorbell cam footage in hopes to ID suspect who raided his home and fridge

Two-car collision in busy Vernon intersection

Firefighters, RCMP and ambulance are on scene

VIDEO: Protesters set up beside Vernon highway

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP responds to countrywide blockades

UPDATE: Protesters say they will maintain blockade near Chase “as long as it takes”

Signs at protest site say in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

Petition seeks to remove local police department from Lindsay Buziak murder case

American woman starts online petition in hopes of helping Buziak family

Deaths on popular Shuswap trail ruled accidental

B.C. Coroners Service reports on fatal falls in May and July 2019

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

‘Chain reaction pile up’ closes southbound traffic on Coquihalla Highway

Black Press Media has reached out to RCMP, paramedics for details

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

EDITORIAL: Thoughtless posts to Facebook cause real harm and stress

At the risk of resembling a broken record, it needs to be… Continue reading

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Most Read