Swinney named region’s offensive player of the year
December 9, 2003
By Jared Green
Tribune staff writer
The surprising season by the South Tahoe High football team carried over to numerous postseason honors for the Viking players, led by running back Grant Swinney.
Swinney, who ran for 2,054 yards and 24 touchdowns to lead the Vikings to the regional semifinals, won Offensive Player of the Year for the Class 4A Northern Region, as well as the same award for the Sierra League.
South Tahoe head coach Todd McIntyre said Swinney was a unanimous choice for the awards, surprising because not every coach who voted got a chance to see the senior star play.
“Grant was the most productive offensive player in the whole league,” McIntyre said. “We decided going into the fourth game that he could pick up a couple hundred yards per game if we gave him the opportunity.”
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Swinney broke the 100-yard barrier in each of South Tahoe’s 11 games, averaging 8.3 yards per carry. His productive season left him second in Nevada’s 4A division in rushing and he stands fifth on the NIAA all-time rushing list. His 144 points led the Sierra League.
“At the beginning of the year I just wanted to have a good season. I didn’t expect all this,” Swinney said. “It’s important to be consistent and I just wanted to go out and contribute to a win every week.”
Joining Swinney on the all-region first team was defensive end Justin McIntyre (no relation to Todd). A natural pass rusher, Justin McIntyre took advantage of the rare opportunity to get after the quarterback in South Tahoe’s disciplined defensive system.
“The way we designed our defense, we weren’t looking for big penetration most of the time,” the head coach said, noting that most opponents had strong running games. “But when it was third down and we needed pressure on the quarterback, Justin was the guy to get it for us.”
Justin wasn’t the only McIntyre to receive an award last week, as big brother Garrett was named to the All-WAC team for his work as a lineman at Fresno State. Justin will walk on for the Bulldogs next season, hoping to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“It’s a really good feeling to have two successful kids in the family,” Justin said. “It’s going to be fun playing with Garrett next year.”
Three Vikings were named to the Northern Region second team: kicker Matt Bobman, linebacker Troy Radke and wide receiver/kick returner Daniel Gomez.
Radke was the hub of the Vikings’ defense, moving between inside and outside linebacker depending on the opposition’s style of play. After playing exclusively on the outside as a junior, the 6-foot, 195-pounder came to enjoy the inside position more as the season progressed.
“I liked moving back and forth, because it was all action, all the time,” said Radke, who will play at Sierra College in Rocklin next fall. “You get to hit a lot more on the inside and that was a bunch more fun than worrying about the pass on the outside.”
Bobman, a junior, converted only two field goals but impressed opposing coaches with his booming kickoffs, which regularly reached the opposition endzone for touchbacks. With his strong leg, Bobman was a seldom-used offensive weapon.
“Given the opportunity, Matt could have made a bunch of field goals for us,” Todd McIntyre said. “But once we got the ball inside the 20 (yard-line), we were pretty good at punching it in.”
Gomez drew notice for his kamikaze style on kickoff returns, slamming his body into defenders with gusto.
“You don’t find a lot of guys who hit the hole as hard as Daniel,” Todd McIntyre said. “Especially guys who only weigh 150 pounds.”
Gomez’s biggest play of the season came at wide receiver, as his 65-yard, tie-breaking touchdown reception against Hug put the Vikings into the playoffs after two winless seasons.
All five regional honorees were named to the Sierra League first team, while several of their teammates made the second team or received honorable mention.
Included on the second team were three offensive linemen: Renne Rodriquez, Richie Giesen and Nick Garratt. Swinney said his line should take credit for many of his high-profile yards and he showed his appreciation during the season by taking his protectors out for dinner on several occasions.
“It’s great for them get recognition, because they worked real hard and didn’t always get the credit,” Swinney said. “I just wish they had gotten first team, because they all deserve it.”
Giesen, one of several Vikings who played both offense and defense, was also named to the second all-league team as a linebacker, while Gomez drew dual honors at wide receiver (second team) and kick returner (first team). Bobman was the third South Tahoe player to receive two mentions, as he made the second team as a punter.
The remaining awards went to defensive backs Bryan Finkel (second team), Ryan Kraw (honorable mention) and tight end Justin Keyes (honorable mention).
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