Warriors welcome back an old friend
ZEPHYR COVE – Football returned to Whittell High on Thursday as the school’s varsity team held its first official practice since the program was abandoned last fall.
Head coach Dennis Young had 21 players participating in drills and learning the offensive, defensive and special teams schemes on Thursday morning, the first day the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association allowed football practices. Whittell’s practice lasted four hours, but Young and an assistant coach kept things upbeat and the players were smiling as they came off the field.
“It’s going to be a fun season,” senior Tommy Esquivel said. “We’re just happy to be out here again.”
Taking a year off of football has thinned the Warriors in terms of both players and experience. They will field one of the smallest rosters in Northern 2A and only five of the players have any high school football experience. The 2002 team was dominated by seniors.
Thursday’s practice didn’t have players in pads and Young will try to keep the contact to a minimum in order to keep his team healthy for the season. The cancellation of last year’s season, 10 days before the opener, came after several injuries in the preseason which reduced the roster to a size too small to compete.
“Injuries are certainly our biggest concern,” Young said. “We know things will happen because it’s a physical, tough game. Anything we can do to keep our kids on the field, we’ll do. But we have to have regular contact to get them ready to play.”
Young said he expects three more players to join the team by next week.
“We could always use more guys out here, but if this is all we get, we’ll be happy,” Esquivel said. “We’re just going to show a bunch of heart and never quit. We’ll be playing hard every minute of every game.”
Young plans to have several players play both offense and defense, a necessity with such a small roster. He will keep the offense simple, running out of an I-formation with some option sprinkled in and will decline to have his starting quarterback play on defense. Jeff Young and Ty Anderson are the leading candidates for the signal-caller position.
Whittell will play a non-contact, seven-on-seven scrimmage against South Tahoe High’s junior varsity on Saturday, which will be the first live action for most of Whittell’s players. The players will meet at Whittell at 1 p.m. on Saturday before heading to STHS for the game.
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