Reality kicks in today at STHS, WHS | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Reality kicks in today at STHS, WHS

Steve Yingling

What a unique high school football season we have in store for us here on the South Shore.

Today brings an end to offseason dreams of division championships and all-state honors and is replaced by the harsh reality of moving blocking sleds with overweight and screaming coaches on board and running so much that you can’t spit and your mouth feels like it’s full of cotton balls.

Going into the first official day of practice allowed by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, there are two storylines brewing locally:

— Will the Whittell Warriors have enough players left by the time the Sept. 3 season opener in Hawthorne rolls around?

— Can South Tahoe follow up their surprising regional semifinal playoff run with another playoff push in a tough Sierra Division?

Whittell really needs to make it to the opening kickoff or the school could be done with football for years to come.

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New coach Dennis Young reportedly is several bodies short of a two-dozen turnout, which isn’t bad for a school that canceled football 10 days outside of their 2003 season opener. Injuries and players quitting reduced that team roster “dangerously” close to a 11-man squad. You definitely don’t want to go into a football season with 11 players.

It also didn’t help that after the team disbanded last year, several Warriors needed for this year’s squad transferred to Douglas. But who can blame those parents for taking their children elsewhere? Whittell couldn’t provide them with something another school could.

Given the typical preseason roster fluctuations, Whittell can’t afford to have any quitters or injuries. As it is, the Warriors will have to be creative during their practice drills, going 8 on 8 instead of 11 on 11.

After losing a season of potential knowledge, the Warriors will put a team on the field with very little varsity experience. Glancing at their challenging schedule, parents should be very concerned that their children are being asked to do something they aren’t ready for.

Whittell’s schedule includes former Nevada 3A members Yerington and Rite of Passage as well as regular division roughnecks Lovelock and Battle Mountain. And let’s not forget a season-ending matchup with rival Incline, which has stepped up to the 3A ranks.

Many new schools – and Whittell is not unlike one this season – schedule their varsity against JV programs so they can gain experience without being run off the field. Considering Whittell’s roster includes freshmen and first-year-players, this should have been considered.

South Tahoe approaches each season like a collegiate program. That’s no surprise given that the Vikings’ two lead coaches – Todd McIntyre and Eric Beavers – played college football. The Vikings will be ready to play the larger schools on their schedule because they prepare for football year-round.

Just how serious the Vikings are can be gleaned from their schedule for the first day of practice. The Vikings will use one of three daily workouts for film watching and walk-throughs, one for conditioning and weight lifting and a third for their on-the-field workouts.

With one of the top quarterbacks in the area – senior Mikey Van Gorden – and most of their defensive unit returning, the Vikings should have goals of returning to the playoffs.

But first they have to deal with those god-awful-length-of-the-field sprints that leave your mouth as dry as the pavement.

Few things in life compare to the arrival of football season, especially when you’re watching from the stands.

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

syingling@tahoedailytribune.com