Nevada honors former quarterback, current South Tahoe coach |

Nevada honors former quarterback, current South Tahoe coach

by dan thomas

Eric Beavers earned a place in Nevada’s Hall of Fame as a quarterback, but makes his living these days on the other side of the ball.

Beavers, one of two members of Nevada’s 1999 Hall of Fame class, piloted the Wolf Pack to a perfect regular-season record and the top ranking in the NCAA’s Division I-AA in 1986. With that in mind, some might find his current position as South Tahoe High School’s defensive backs coach surprising. But for Beavers, it’s a natural fit.

“I’m enjoying it,” said Beavers, who started learning defense in detail about 10 years ago as a graduate assistant at UCLA. “I met a lot of good people. I really enjoy working with the coach and the guys.

“Having played quarterback, I had to learn defense, so I was fairly comfortable with understanding the basics of defense,” he said.

In college, though, Beavers was a defensive’s. He started for the Wolf Pack for four years, and in 1983, led the team to its first conference title in 44 years as a freshman. By the time he finished his senior season, Beavers had accounted for 8,629 yards, 642 completions and 78 touchdowns, all career records at Nevada.

“He’s one of the great stories of Wolf Pack football,” said Nevada athletic director Chris Ault, a former two-time Nevada football coach.

He remains the winningest quarterback ever to wear a Wolf Pack uniform. Nevada won a school-record 40 games and advanced to the I-AA playoffs three times. “Beavs had that intangible quality of being a coach on the field. We’ve had great quarterbacks here, but I think Beavs understood the offense better than anyone. Just a tremendous competitor.”

Beavers recently took the assistant’s job coaching defensive backs and perimeter players at South Tahoe after three years in San Rafael, Calif. It’s little surprise that the Vikings’ defensive backfield is starting to take on a little of their coach’s character.

“Since he played quarterback, he knows how defenses messed with him,” said South Tahoe’s Chas Tanner, one of Beaver’s charges, along with Matt George, Sean Kezer and Chris Seals.

They have been doing their share of messing with quarterbacks this season – as well as kickers, receivers and running backs. The “Sierra Swarm” defense is one of the big reasons South Tahoe has started 3-1 this season, and George and the secondary played inspired football in a close win over rival Douglas. Beavers has given South Tahoe’s defenders drills to practice that have turned into better play on the field.

“He emphasizes more of the discipline part than the repetitions,” Tanner said.

Beavers asks a lot of his players, and they give a lot. Many of the drills he uses at South Tahoe he has brought with him from the UCLA days.

“Football is a very disciplined game, so you have to have discipline to be good,” he said.

That disciplined approach goes beyond the players Beavers coaches to affect South Tahoe’s whole defense.

“It fits in exactly with our philosophy on defense an also with our team philosophy, which coach (Tim) Jaureguito stresses,” said South Tahoe defensive coordinator Mike Makley.

“He’s really composed, and he doesn’t panic,” Makley said. “He’s a leader, and you can see how he won so many games as a quarterback.”

Similarly, Beavers has approached his coaching career with patience. While he hasn’t ruled out being a head coach – or coordinator – at another school or another level, he is enjoying his assistant’s role at South Tahoe.

While Beavers will be in Reno this weekend for his Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony, his Vikings team will be there for different reasons. A Viking victory Friday and a Wolf Pack win Saturday could make the weekend very sweet indeed for Beavers.

“That’d be good,” he said of the prospect for a Nevada win. “I know the coaching staff for the Wolf Pack could use a good win.”

So could South Tahoe. The Vikings lost their first game of the season last week, falling to Hug after a late Hawks rally. Beavers said the Vikings need to play better to get a win.

“I think we’re ready to do that,” he said.

Beavers and former Wolf Pack All-America softball player Kelly Dick Orlich – the wife of South Tahoe basketball coach Tom Orlich – are the two members of the 1999 Wolf Pack Hall of Fame. The school will honor both former players during its homecoming gala Friday, and again Saturday at halftime of the Wolf Pack’s homecoming game.

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