Vikings’ Cain, Erickson make Div. I-A All-State teams
A pair of South Tahoe football players received statewide distinction for Div. I-A when the teams were announced earlier this week. Vikings junior quarterback Mason Cain and senior defensive lineman Brandon Erickson were both named second-team All-State selections.
“It’s an honor for these kids to have their accomplishments recognized,” Vikings head coach Kevin Hennessee said.
In his first year as starting varsity quarterback, Cain threw for 2,379 yards and 20 touchdowns — both highs for northern Nevada. The junior finished the season with a .519 completion percentage, and delivered three-touchdown performances against the top two teams in Div. I-A Northern League — Fallon and Elko.
“He did a phenomenal job making the jump from junior varsity to varsity — it spoke to his hard work and his ability,” Hennessee said. “That’s a hard jump to make — everybody is a little bit better, a little bit faster and you have to make that adaptation.
“To throw for that many yards is pretty amazing.”
Cain was in a competition for the starting quarterback spot during the offseason, and won the job in the team’s scrimmage the week before the season kicked off. He played behind eight offensive line combinations during the season — including different starting groups in each of the first seven games.
“He took a beating in the beginning and was able to keep up, get back up and not miss any games,” Hennessee said.
On the defensive side of the ball, Erickson began the year slated to play defensive back before switching to nose tackle during the second game of the season. Erickson missed South Tahoe’s season opener, and played on the scout team defensive line in practices leading up to that contest — that’s when the coaching staff noticed his unlikely talent in the trenches.
“A lot of times kids will play a spot in practice, but then when they get to the game they can’t duplicate what they were doing in practice,” Hennessee said. “He went in there and started making plays — and they couldn’t stop him.”
The 6-foot-2-inch, 175-pound senior contributed to three fourth-down stops against Spring Creek after changing positions — and was a force on the defensive line for the rest of the season. Erickson’s play on the line keyed South Tahoe’s first victory of the season, a 28-2 win against Dayton on Homecoming.
“He liked it and he was getting it done, so he decided to own it,” Hennessee said. “Once he owned it, he was a force — he was able to get in the backfield and forced people to change their blocking schemes.
“His toughness in there surprised us.”
A noticeable omission from the all-state teams was Vikings receiver Kirby David. South Tahoe’s leading receiver caught 69 passes for 979 yards and 10 touchdowns — finishing atop the state in receptions and fourth in yards — but was ineligible to receive state acclaim because he wasn’t voted a first-team All-League selection.
South Tahoe finished the 2014 season with a 2-8 overall record and placed eighth in Div. I-A Northern League. Eleven Vikings earned All-League honors, which were released last month.
State Most Valuable Player honors went to junior receiver/defensive back R.J. Hubert of Moapa Valley (Overton, Nev.), who defeated Desert Pines (Las Vegas) 42-36 in overtime for the Div. I-A state championship Nov. 22. Moapa Valley quarterback Zach Hymas was named state Offensive MVP and Pirates head coach Brent Lewis was named state Coach of the Year.
Fallon senior lineman Justin Hatfield and Desert Pines senior defensive end Anthony Smith shared state Defensive MVP honors. Elko junior Benton Wickersham was named state Lineman of the Year.