Sertoma Classic revives football careers |

Sertoma Classic revives football careers

Paul Andrew

Two South Shore football players will hit the gridiron with the best in Nevada at the 26th annual Sertoma Football Classic All-Star game Friday night beginning at 7:30 at Mackay Stadium in Reno.

Whittell High’s Bryce Rafferty and South Tahoe High’s Miles Wallace were selected to represent their schools in the game that pits teams consisting of the top graduating seniors from each level of high school football in Northern Nevada.

In 2004, the game changed from a regional format to an alternating lottery of schools chosen by each coach. Hence, Rafferty and Wallace will be on opposing sides, even though they attend neighboring schools. They will be among 90 of the best players from 30 schools selected to participate in the contest, many of whom will be continuing their football careers at the Division 1 or 1-AA level.

For Rafferty, who will play center for the Silver team, it is a chance to end his high school career with a victory, something that eluded him during his three years of football with the 2A Warriors. As part of the class that resurrected the sport after it was dropped in 2003 due to a lack of interest, Rafferty thought his football career was finished until he received the letter inviting him to play in this game.

“I was ecstatic when I got the notice that I was selected,” said Rafferty. “I had to read the letter about three or four times to believe it.”

“To end my career with a win in this game would be unbelievable. Even though we didn’t win at Whittell, the progress we made kept us together. We came so close our senior year, that the close loses felt like victories.”

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Wallace, who is slated to play guard and center for the Blue team, only experienced one win in each of his two varsity seasons for the 4A Vikings.

“I almost cried when I had to turn in my helmet after last season, so it will be great to have one more chance to strap on the pads,” Wallace said. “I’ll be out there representing my buddies from South Tahoe.”

Resuming football workouts in June has presented the pair with challenges.

“Hitting again was interesting,” Wallace added after the first practice. “My head was pounding, but it was a good pounding. With all these great players, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt small.”

The adjustment is even greater for Rafferty, who currently weighs 180 pounds. Having never played organized football before joining the Whittell team during his sophomore year, Rafferty has only competed in the much smaller 2A level.

“I’m anxious, and a little nervous, to get out there and see how I do at this level,” Rafferty added. “I’m really excited to be in this game.”

For Wallace, a 3.8 honor student, and MVP wrestler, it won’t be his last time in organized competition. He will wrestle for Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo next year in hopes of continuing his wrestling career at a NCAA Division I school after his career with the Cougars is completed.

Rafferty, who has a 3.5 GPA, will attend the University of Nevada in the fall, and would like to still play football, either at a club or intramural level.

Although only one of these student athletes will leave the field victorious Friday night, they both enjoy having one last opportunity to compete in the sport they love and take pride in being able to represent their schools and community.