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If only March had minor football as option

Column by Steve Yingling

Another promising prep football season is upon us.

Although we’re still sweating out the final days of August, Nevada high school football players begin playing for keeps Friday night.

On Saturday, we’ll discover if the Vikings are reloading or rebuilding as they open at home against Reed. But we’ll have to wait a week to learn if the Warriors under new/old coach John Summers will being making a dramatic turnaround from a frustrating 0-9 campaign in 1997. The Warriors kick off with Battle Mountain on Sept. 5 in Zephyr Cove.

The high school football season brings back many fond memories for all of whom have played the game or enjoy watching it. For some fans, it’s the chill of an impending winter ushering them to the concession stands for hot chocolate. For others, it’s refreshing to see the unrestrained enthusiasm and excitement of teen-agers as they make their final pilgrimage to adulthood. Some believe it’s an opportunity to compare communities and demonstrate their hometown pride.

For this writer, it’s an opportunity to unveil the area’s next great athlete. Is there another another David March or Mike Crawford out there? Could it be STHS’s Tim Sprinkles or Cory Martin? Maybe it’s Whittell’s Trent Gordon or Bobby Linkul.

If there is, hopefully the game will take better care of him than it did March.

In a perfect world, March would be embarking on his second or third season in the NFL this fall. No knock on Crawford, a second-year middle linebacker with the Miami Dolphins, but March was the best football player this area had to offer in 1991.

Anyone who witnessed March’s full-tilt-to-the-whistle style and electrifying open-field running ability was lucky and perhaps shocked when he didn’t further his career in college.

March didn’t have the desire to pursue football beyond high school because it meant attending classes. He shouldn’t be chastised for his decision. A college education isn’t the ticket to paradise for everyone.

Some of the Pac-10 schools, including Washington, coveted him. So did Nevada. Following the 1992 Sertoma Game in which March earned the MVP award, three college coaches surrounded him and vainly tried to persuade him to come to their schools. March politely declined.

“Coaches from Butte and Chico were calling me all time, but I never followed through with it,” March said.

It’s a shame that March wasn’t afforded the opportunity to further his football career without going to school. Why can’t the National Football League start a minor league system like baseball? While colleges have given countless athletes careers after sports, they shouldn’t be the sole training ground for talented football players. Many players pass through campuses without a diploma and remain eligible by taking the simplest courses possible.

March, who is employed by Raley’s in Sacramento, sampled college life at Cabrillo in Santa Cruz, Calif., for a month in 1992 before deciding to retire from football.

“Some kids don’t have the education background to go on to college, but with minor league ball they could still get paychecks and might be able to transform it into a career or another chance to be looked at,” said March, who scored the Vikings’ only touchdown in a 25-7 state championship loss to Eldorado of Las Vegas in 1991. “I should have known better. My grades weren’t all that great and I didn’t have all the requirements to go to a big school.”

If a minor league football draft would have been in place, March would have run as far as he could have with the pigskin.

“It would give them a chance,” he said. “After high school a lot of players don’t have the experience and development to go on further and don’t understand the game as much as they should. Minor football would give them more opportunities to be looked at and put more time into it.

“Plus the guidance you get from coaches would help as much in life as it would your football career.”

Present Viking coach Tim Jaureguito, who coached March, believes his former star back could have excelled in collegiate football.

“The talent was there. I honestly believe he liked the game enough where he would have gone out to make something happen for himself,” Jaureguito said. “Every time I’m involved with other coaches in the area the question always comes up, ‘What’s David March doing these days?’

“Without a doubt he’s the best player I’ve ever coached and one of the top five players I’ve seen. You could probably talk to anybody who’s been around the league and they are going to say the same thing.”

Last summer, March was contacted by a Carson City semipro team about his services. He passed.

Jaureguito doesn’t blame him.

“The exposure is not there. The semipro teams I’ve seen, they are just a bunch of guys who go out there to have fun. There’s competition, but not at the level you need to be able to go on and play pro football,” the 11-year Viking coach said. “Every now and then you see a player who wasn’t drafted join a pro team as a free agent.”

Regrettably, pro prospects aren’t too good for a 24-year-old out-of-shape football player. Of course, March always has the option of returning to college.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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