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Come out and watch Viking football

Steve Yingling

Looking beyond Reed High’s overflowing fan turnout, one couldn’t help but notice a smaller-than-usual band of rooters on the other side of the stadium.

More than likely, they were the South Tahoe High players’ parents, who were watching their sons crush Reed 51-7 in a season-opening football game Friday night in Sparks.

Considering it was dawning of a new season and the Vikings were fielding their best team since 1991, the turnout could have been better. Maybe it was the hot August night or the 130-mile roundtrip. Most likely, it was the Labor Day weekend demands of seeing relatives in the Bay Area.

For some unknown reason, football is a tough sell in South Lake Tahoe. I’m not sure why. Sure, there are plenty of other sports, outdoor activities and night life beckoning, but three hours a week is a small price to pay to a group of teen-agers committed to representing our community the best they can.

In other small towns, football – like basketball – draws a community closer together. Win or lose, it’s nice for the kids to know that the community cares.

Opening night of high school football has always been special if you’ve taken the time to notice. Every team thinks it’s the toughest and destined for greatness. Within a matter of two or three hours, 35 or so players find out their potential and how hard they’ve worked in the off-season compared to their opponents.

Either way, a throng of familiar faces providing encouragement can go a long ways in helping shape a team and its season.

I’ve seen season-opening games in Salem, Brookings and Medford, Ore.; Ventura County, Calif.; High Point, N.C.; and of course, Northern Nevada, but I’ve never seen a finer performance than the one South Tahoe displayed last Friday. They were awesome, plain and simple.

In their 44-point pasting of Reed, the Vikings embarrassed a 20-year veteran coach, Doug Parry, who was making his Northern Nevada League coaching debut. And they did it without piling on the points like one Northern Nevada League football coach has been known to do.

“Tahoe did a heck of a job. They threw the ball well, their quarterback (Bret Uppendahl) is a great reader, his receivers run great routes, they catch the ball well and they read defensive coverage well. Down the road, that’s the place where we’ve got to be,” Parry said.

If you follow football and think high school ball is below your standards, come out to the Vikings’ home opener with Reno on Sept. 13. These Vikings probably run the spread offense better than the University of Nevada, where Viking offensive coordinator Todd McIntyre learned the Pack’s system and brought it home to mesh with a talented bunch of upcoming players.

With NCAA Division I prospects Uppendahl and tailback Bryan Bough operating behind a overprotective offensive line, the Vikings are a threat to score from their own 1-yard line.

Their defense is also exciting to watch, too, because the Vikings force the action like good teams do. The Vikings had three quarterback sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery in the first half against Reed. In fact, the defense was so dominant in the opening 24 minutes that the Raiders only ran 15 plays.

“We knew their offense better than they did. We knew exactly what we were going to do when they came out in a formation,” said Viking senior strong safety Jason Nixon.

Of course, Viking 10-year coach Tim Jaureguito doesn’t want an overconfident team going into their final eight regular-season games. After all, the Vikings could still finish 1-8. But that shouldn’t happen as long as they work as hard as they have over the past two years.

“The kids played real well, but can we maintain that intensity?” Jaureguito said. “The main thing is: Can we continue improve? If we can, this is gonna be a darn-good football team by the end of the season.”

For one, senior offensive lineman Brad Cimino doesn’t think the Vikings have won the state championship after one game.

“We’re happy, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Hopefully we can improve every game,” Cimino said.

Don’t miss something special. This is your town, and it should be your team.


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