Football program needs to unify, promote JV players |

Football program needs to unify, promote JV players

Do it for the seniors. Those players deserve South Tahoe High unifying its football program before they play their last game in nine days.

The fact that the varsity and junior varsity programs have barely co-existed all season has obviously prevented seniors from winning a single game throughout their high school careers.

Seven games into the South Tahoe High varsity football season it has been depressing watching the exuberance leak out of these 17- and 18-year-olds and turn into resignation. They are way too young to have a defeatist attitude.

But these winless Vikings aren’t to blame for a second straight disappointing varsity season. No, the school administration, coaches and parents are. It’s bad enough that the school divides its student solidarity by allowing individual class competition during homecoming week, but the three football teams that make up a program have to operate as one.

As separate as the Vikings’ varsity and JV programs are, the school should just give one of them a new nickname.

Different fundamental coaching philosophies caused the divisive split in the offseason, prompting the core of Viking varsity coaches to switch their allegiance to a more dedicated group at the JV level.

That was fine except for the extremely dedicated juniors and seniors the former varsity coaches left behind. Imagine how forsaken those kids felt when learning they would be coached by somebody else.

As the season has progressed, the results for the varsity and JV are as different as the record of the old Sacramento Kings and opposed to the present Kings. The JV is 4-3 and one win away from clinching a winning season. Meanwhile, the varsity is struggling through one of the longest losing streaks in the state and, for that matter, the country, with 17 straight defeats.

If the programs were operating as one, as they should be, the victory-starved varsity might have already experienced the thrill of winning. Several of the JV stars, including sophomore quarterback Mikey Van Gorden, could have been elevated to the varsity level.

“It was one of those touchy things,” said STHS varsity co-head coach Chris Morgan. “One of the things we wanted to do is keep that group together and let them be as successful as possible. That was the plan from the get-go before anything happened to (former varsity coach) Eric (Beavers), and we said we were going to stick with that plan.”

No disrespect to current varsity quarterback Robert Smith, but he is a wide receiver who has unselfishly played behind center out of necessity and team loyalty. Smith has to wonder how many touchdowns he would have scored if Van Gorden was throwing to him this season.

Varsity head coaches typically promote worthy JV players late in the season if they can help the top program. But such a promotion doesn’t happen without correspondence between the players, their parents and JV coaches, according to STHS Athletic Director Don Borges.

Bishop Manogue High assistant Tim Jaureguito, the most successful football coach in STHS history, occasionally promoted JV players at the end of season and some of them such as Robert Arana, Garrett McIntyre and Tim Sprinkles paid immediate dividends.

Would two or three JV players make a difference at this point? It would be interesting to find out. The Vikings haven’t played like a winless team defensively, but their offense, which hasn’t scored in eight quarters, could use some additional parts.

“As good as some of the JV players are, we still have quite a bit of talent on varsity to win games,” Morgan said. “Eventually senior leadership gets victories for you and pulls you through tough times, and hopefully the seniors understand that.”

No one can say they are 100 percent sure that these JV players aren’t ready for varsity action. I’m certain some of these sophomores are curious as to how well they could perform at the varsity level. Late-season varsity experience could only help them next year as the prepare for their first full varsity season.

A few promotions won’t gut the JV program either. The disbanded freshman team added 13 players to the JV squad last week.

I hope Smith, Langdon Owen, Kory Collins and the other Viking seniors realize their dream of winning Saturday. But they are the ones who will have to go out and get it. The adults around them are too divided to help them out.

“Everybody would be so happy if we won Saturday,” said Renne Rodriguez, who has played three years for STHS. “It would be everybody’s first win.”

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

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