Longtime teammates and friends, now opponents

Okanagan Sun defensive lineman James Harney and Westshore Rebels o-lineman Tyson Thompson played together for a decade

Longtime friends and teammates

Close friends since childhood, James Harney and Tyson Thompson were in an unfamiliar position during Saturday night’s B.C. Football Conference game at the Apple Bowl—they were wearing different uniforms.

Harney, a defensive lineman with the Okanagan Sun, and Thompson, an offensive lineman with Westshore Rebels, played seven seasons of minor football together in their hometown of Squamish.

The two were teammates again for one season of high school ball at Howe Sound, then spent both the 2014 and 2015 seasons together at Bishop’s University in Quebec.

After spending a decade as teammates, Harney, 20, and Thompson, 21, both made the jump this season to the B.C. Football Conference, but to different destinations.

“It was a little strange to see us not with the same team, that hasn’t happened too often,” said Harney. “It’s all about the path that each of us are taking in football, and it’s good to see (Tyson) continuing on. He’s a big guy, a good player and I’m proud of him. It was nice to see him.”

With Harney resting an injury, the two didn’t get a chance to go head-to-head during Saturday night’s 27-21 win by the Sun, but met on the field afterwards.

“He’s like a brother to me,” the 6-foot-5 Thompson said of Harney. “It was really good to see him Saturday. I’m happy for him and the success his team is having, but losing tasted a little sour at the same time.

“You’re always friends no matter what, but you still want to win. I know James feels the same way.”

Harney and Thompson, who are in contact on a weekly basis, will see each other again on Saturday, Sept. 10 when the Sun travels to Victoria.

This time, assuming he’s healthy enough to play, Harney plans to prove a point to Thompson, who is not only his close friend but now his rival.

“It’s going to be fun, we’re going to see who’s the better player,” Harney said with a laugh. “There’s always a little harassment between us about who’s the better football player.”

This weekend, Harney and the Sun will host the Vancouver Island Raiders, while Thompson and the Rebels are on the road to face the Kamloops Broncos.