WHS’s Young to run West Coast ‘O’ | TahoeDailyTribune.com

WHS’s Young to run West Coast ‘O’

By Paul Andrew

Tribune correspondent

ZEPHYR COVE – The second season of the Whittell High football program resurrection begins with optimism and a new offense to challenge the rest of Northern Nevada’s 2A conference.

After the school had to drop football in 2003 due to lack of numbers, head coach Dennis Young and his staff put an inexperienced, but enthusiastic team on the field last year.

Despite finishing with an 0-7 record, there were many highlights and a renewed excitement for football at the Zephyr Cove campus. Even with the losing record, not one player left the program last season, a tribute to the staff and the solidarity of the players.

“The kids have always been very motivated and positive,” said Coach Young. “The support we have had from the school and community has been tremendous.”

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“We want to be more competitive this year,” Young said. “It will be difficult, but the kids are up to the challenge.”

With only 16 eligible players currently on the team, competing against schools with larger numbers will be the first obstacle. However, coach Young does expect six more players to become eligible within the first few weeks of the season, plus he is aware of several others planning to join the squad once school starts.

This year’s team will emphasize a passing attack based on the “West Coast offense” popularized by the San Francisco Forty Niners during their championship years.

“We’ll throw about 70 percent of the time,” said offensive coordinator Brian Swoger.

How much returning quarterback Jeff Young can emulate his namesake Steve Young will determine the success of the Warrior offense. Young, who has a strong arm, also relies on his speed to elude tacklers and is always a threat to break a long run. Curtis Humbird, who threw two touchdowns in a recent scrimmage against Silver Stage, backs up Young at signal caller.

The receiver corps is experienced with speedy David Sabistina, and the versatile Humbird as wideouts. Special team terror Dylan “Rudy” Bivens will also get extensive playing time at receiver. Zack Witt, the student body president, starts at tight end, with freshman Steve Mick, currently out with a broken wrist, slated as backup when he returns.

The running attack will be handled by Travis Swoger, who moves to the “H” back position from the offensive line. Quick-footed Alvin Regala will share time at the running back position.

The offensive line returns size and experience. Matt Hurst and Daniel Allen anchor a line that also returns Bryce Rafferty and Nick Spano. Newcomers Ian Allen, Michael Sabistina, Kevin Haws and Eric Mc Cloughlin will be relied on to make contributions to the line.

“We have a very young team with only four seniors but have a strong sophomore class,” said coach Young. “Many of the freshmen have been impressive with their attitude and intensity.”

With so few eligible players, most will have to go both ways, making stamina critical for those playing the entire game. Anchoring the defense is Swoger, who was voted second-team all-league linebacker last year. Sabistina, Rafferty and Humbird complete the linebacking corps.

Hurst, Allen, Spano and Michael Sabistina fill out the line, with McCloughlin and Haws rotating in. Defensive back duties will be handled by Witt, Humbird and newcomers Reed Hughes and Cody Reed, with Bivens coming off the bench.

The placekicking will be ably handled by Jeff Young, who set a 2A record last year with a 50-yard field goal against Battle Mountain. Jeff has received recruiting interest from Oregon State, among others, for his kicking abilities. Young also handles the punting.

Lacking numbers but not heart, Whittell enters the season as underdogs, playing against much bigger schools in the tough 2A division.

“We want the kids to compete and, most importantly, to have fun,” coach Young said. “They’ll never get these years back.”

Whittell kicks off its season against Hawthorne at 2 p.m. Saturday in Zephyr Cove.

Breakout

Coach: Dennis Young, second year

Last year: 0-7

Keys to season: Can the Warriors avoid injuries as most of their 16-player roster has to play offense, defense and special teams.

Opener: vs. Hawthorne on Saturday.

Whittell Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 3 HAWTHORNE 2 p.m.

Sept. 9 At Independence 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 16 At Portola 7 p.m.

Sept. 24 LOVELOCK 2 p.m.

Sept. 30 At Yerington 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 8 At Battle Mtn. 1 p.m.

Oct. 15 *SILVER STAGE 2 p.m.

Oct. 22 ROP 2 p.m.

Oct. 29 INCLINE 1 p.m.

Note: Home games are in ALL CAPS.

*Homecoming game

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