Enthusiasm for football varies at STHS and WHS
Before the first official high school football practices started Thursday, South Tahoe already knew where it stands, while Whittell knew Thursday wouldn’t provide an accurate measure.
The two local teams started their new seasons on the heels of two very different 1988 campaigns, and with two different perspectives. Entering three-a-days, South Tahoe’s 43 varsity players already had a summer of intense – but unofficial – practices behind them. On the other side of the state line, the eight players who came out for Whittell’s first varsity practice probably will not know where their team stands until the full squad comes together Saturday.
“We worked really hard all summer, so we have a pretty good idea about what we’re looking for,” said South Tahoe head coach Tim Jaureguito, whose Vikings are looking to build on a 4-5 season. That means there were no real surprises in camp, in the form of unexpected players showing up, or established players unexpectedly being absent.
Practice began at Whittell, though, without a handful of its players. Head coach John Summers, whose Warriors went 0-9 in his first season as head coach, had no real surprises, either – just a little disappointment.
“It’s kind of disappointing that we have a small turnout here right off the bat,” Summers said. “Our summer work ethic wasn’t too good, either, so we’ve got a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks.”
At both schools, though, the message was clear: the time to do that work is now. South Tahoe began the season with an hour of special teams in the morning, followed by two two-hour sessions of regular practice. Whittell started with one practice Friday, and will continue with one session, 3-6 p.m. every day.
Small turnout, though, hasn’t killed Whittell’s optimism. With one exception, every player at practice Thursday was a returning starter. With junior Chauncey Lane moving to the varsity at running back, and three solid receivers – juniors Luke Forvilly and Joel Warnick, and senior Jake Corners – returning, Summers seemed confident with the skill positions. Whittell’s concern is its line. But Whittell’s position, hardly, is unique in the league.
“What I’ve told the kids here is, since last spring, there’re at least three other teams that are kind of in the same boat this year,” Summers said. “Instead of using that as an excuse, we have to look at it that way and say maybe our 13 will be better than their 13.”
The outlook in California seemed brighter, but Jaureguito echoed Summers’ sentiments. To distinguish itself from the parity in Division II of the Northern Nevada 4A league, South Tahoe also needs solid play from its line. With just one senior – guard Billy Hume – returning to the line, some of the protection for senior quarterback Tim Sprinkles might have to come from new players.
“Everybody’s in the same boat we’re in,” Jaureguito said. “I think it’s going to be, week in and week out, a very good season.”
After South Tahoe begins its season with a home scrimmage against Wooster on Aug. 21, Jaureguito has two nonconference matchups versus Sparks and Lowry to fine-tune his team and look for a formula that works. But less than a month after South Tahoe’s first practice in pads, the team opens its conference schedule Sept. 9 at Douglas, one of the teams Jaureguito named as a favorite.
“If we don’t win that game, it’s going to be an uphill battle all the way,” Jaureguito said.
With Sprinkles, a receiver corps Jaureguito called South Tahoe’s best in years and junior 100-meter track champ Jake Horwitz and senior James Fabrizio splitting time at running back, the Vikings have the potential for an exciting offense. It all starts with the passing game, though.
“There’s no secret about that,” Jaureguito said. “I think everybody in the league knows we’re going to throw the ball.
“Tim’s throwing the ball really well, and I think, more importantly, he’s starting to get an idea of how our offense works, especially when it’s working against the defense,” he said.
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