Derek Walde and Kurtis Mutschmann are heart-and-soul Kamloops Broncos, said team president Dino Bernardo — the type of players programs are built on.
Walde, an offensive lineman from Kindersley, Sask., and Mutschmann, a defensive lineman from Kelowna, are the only two graduating Broncos who spent all five seasons of their junior football eligibility in Kamloops.
They arrived just in time for the most successful two seasons in program history.
The Broncos had their high-water mark campaign in 2014, finishing third in the six-team B.C. Football Conference with a record of 6-4. Kamloops cracked the post-season again in 2015 with a 5-5 record.
What makes Walde and Mutschmann heart-and-soul guys (and perhaps gluttons for punishment) is in part their willingness to stick around during lean years, when others bolted.
Kamloops has won four games since 2016 and will have to upset the Langley Rams (6-4) on Saturday to avoid an 0-10 finish in 2018.
Game time is 4 p.m. at Hillside Stadium.
Walde, who has not missed a game in five years, was named to the BCFC’s 2018 offensive all-star team on Wednesday. He also received the honour in 2015.
“I’m pretty grateful,” said Walde, who turns 22 on Oct. 24. “It hasn’t been the ideal last couple of years, but it’s nice to get recognized at the end of my football career.”
Walde, who expects to graduate from Thompson Rivers University in December, plans to continue his education at the University of Saskatchewan.
“The program has given a lot to me over the years,” Walde said. “I’ve played in 52 games. It’s interesting to look back and reminisce about the people I’ve played with.”
Walde and Mutschmann spend time volunteering as coaches for the South Kamloops Titans’ football team and have been mentors to younger Broncos.
“They are those model guys,” Bernardo said. “You couldn’t ask for better team leaders.”
Both were ranked among the top 50 Canadian Junior Football League players heading into the 2018 season.
Josh Isaak, Hudson Baribeau, Samuel Schlitz and Bryce Couture complete the Broncos’ graduating class of 2018.
Neither Walde nor Mutschmann ever beat the Okanagan Sun, but they came close last weekend in an 18-10 defeat in Kelowna.
“The other kids on the team were playing for them,” Bernardo said.
Expect the kids to be playing for them again on Saturday, when an unlikely fifth win in three years would seem a fitting sendoff for a pair of heart-and-soul guys.
“That would be a great way to end it,” Walde said. “That’s for sure.”