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Prep football is in the air

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneWhittell High running back Olivier Curial takes a handoff from quarterback Austin Buyak during practice on Thursday in Zephyr Cove.
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All of the elements that generations of football players are familiar with were present on Thursday for the opening day of high school football practice on the South Shore.

In typical mid-August heat, players languished through punishing conditioning drills and hurriedly responded to orders from enthusiastic coaches.

At South Tahoe, assistant coach Bill Tinlin, a former NFL player with the New England Patriots, warned his Vikings that the conditioning snake at the end of practice was only a precursor as far their conditioning was concerned. The snaking, nonstop 100-yard drill incorporated bear crawls, backpedalling, sprinting and footwork.



Meanwhile at Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove, new coach Jeff Jones conditioned his undermanned squad by repeatedly running plays from the team’s Pistol offense. Only nine Warriors were present for the school’s afternoon workout, causing Jones some concern.

“I thought we’d have a couple more kids out there. Maybe they are afraid about the conditioning,” said Jones, noting that he knows of four players who were missing because of either a vacation, ski camp or participation in a water-ski competition.



“It will be a shame to suspend the season if we don’t have enough kids out there.”

A small turnout caused Whittell to cancel the 2003 football season.

Jones has little time to prepare his team for its season opener. The Warriors are scheduled to play Sierra Ridge on Aug. 27 in San Andreas, Calif.

Area squads won’t put on pads until next week when initial conditioning is complete.

A core of Whittell and South Tahoe players worked out throughout the summer, giving their coaches an idea of what to expect in the coming season, which is only two weeks away for both schools.

“Everyone has slowly gotten more motivated to play the sport and gotten more love and passion for it,” said STHS senior receiver Rigel Garman.

South Tahoe opens against Portola, a California opponent located along the Feather River in Plumas County, in a season of change. The Vikings will compete in Nevada Class 3A after spending nearly three decades at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s highest level.

The Vikings’ home schedule also includes a historical night game on Sept. 10 against Lowry, Dayton on Sept. 25, Sparks on Oct. 9, Spring Creek on Oct. 16 and defending 3A state champion Truckee on Oct. 30.

Second-year coach Kevin Hennessee and his players are excited about the changes in store for their program.

“The core of 25-30 players who worked all summer are really looking forward to the season coming,” Hennessee said. “They know they are gonna have to compete, but they now know that it is competitive to them.”

Fans won’t want to miss the Lowry game as it will deliver the first night game ever played in Viking Bowl. Portable lights will illuminate the field and serve as an impetus for erecting permanent lights for Viking Bowl.

“Having the first game with lights, that’s going to be huge,” Hennessee said.

Both coaches encouraged players to join there teams as soon as possible. Players must put in 10 practices before they are eligible to play in game under NIAA rules. Whittell players report to the school’s locker room at 8:15 a.m. daily and return for an afternoon practice at 1:15 p.m. South Tahoe will practice today starting at 12:15 p.m. with a chalk talk. The Vikings will be on the field in shorts and T-shirts from 1-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-5 p.m. Saturday’s practice starts at 8:30 a.m.


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