Prep football coaches point to the future |

Prep football coaches point to the future

Steve Yingling

That Dennis Young and Nick Samaras are still willing to talk about football following difficult seasons confirms their character and commitment toward their programs.

Both football coaches endured trying seasons that would have gotten them fired in the National Football League. But in the flexible world of prep football, losing can be tolerated depending on the circumstances.

In Young and Samaras’ cases, no football observers expected Whittell or South Tahoe to do very well on the gridiron in 2005. Young has struggled to get his program going after the school dropped the sport for the 2003 season, while Samaras wasn’t hired by STHS until late spring.

“There isn’t a coach around that has ever enjoyed watching his kids lose,” said Samaras following a 1-8 season that included a 52-0 pasting of Foresthill. “As a coach you always think it will go a little bit better. With the time element we had, it panned out the way we thought.”

Although numbers in the program decreased dramatically with the change in coaching staffs, inexperienced varsity players and a dropoff in talent were key factors in Vikings’ tough season.

“I don’t think we could have changed anything,” Samaras said. “The kids worked hard and they tried as best as they could. We did the scouting, got the kids ready, but because of the lack of experience and the youth we had, we just didn’t get the job done.”

Recommended Stories For You

Whittell faced a similar plight as many as five freshmen played regularly for Young. Young often had to use his personnel out of position because of injuries and inexperience. Consequently, the school suffered its second straight winless season.

“Getting kids interested is the least of my worries now. It’s getting them where we can compete a little bit and keep them interested,” Young said.

The Warriors only led once all season – 7-6 over Silver Stage after one quarter – and was equally challenged to mount an offensive attack as they were stopping opposing offenses.

Despite routine seven and eight-touchdown margins of defeat, Young won’t bail on a program that he revived two years ago. Even though his son, Jeff, will graduate next spring, Young is committed to turning the program around in Zephyr Cove.

“It’s gonna get better for our football program,” coach Young said. “We have a couple of angles we are trying to get the program off the ground.”

The school is considering petitioning the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association to drop from 2A to 1A for football only. If the NIAA rejects the proposal next year, Whittell may soften its schedule by playing as an independent.

Another option is playing the junior varsity squads of the Northern 2A’s elite and the varsity for compatible football schools such as Silver Stage and Incline.

Samaras observed a positive sign that his program can rebound immediately after a 46-0 season-ending loss to Hug last week.

“They were very upbeat right after the Hug game when we were outside waiting for the bus. They asked me when we were going to get going. That’s a great thing.

“We’re hoping get our weight program going very shortly, that’s the key. We need to get in the weight room and we need to get strong.”

That earnestness to change what happened in 2005 is the only way South Tahoe and Whittell can again become competitive on the gridiron.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or