Carson High inducted four more football players — Grant Boldt (1996), John Gary (1979), Melvin Rodela (1984) and Ryan Berkich (1998) — into its football Hall of Fame on Saturday night at its annual Kick-off party in the Carson Nugget parking lot.
It was touch and go in the days leading up to the dinner because of the fire near Yosemite National Park, which has made the air quality very poor in the Carson area. In fact, Carson’s scrimmage on Saturday morning was called off. A crowd of about 400 attended the festivities.
Berkich, a three-year starter, was a stalwart for then-head coach Bob Bateman. The Senators were 26-11 during Berkich’s three seasons on varsity.
“Coach Bateman took over in ’94 or ’95 and started to change things and making history,” Berkich said. “We had some good teams and established Carson as a quality football program. Before I got there as a sophomore, Carson had a rough go in football.”
Berkich, who played football, basketball and baseball at Carson, was an all-state selection in 1998 and received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Nevada, Reno. Berkich led the team in tackles and had six interceptions his senior season.
“We thought he’d be a pretty good player when we brought him up as a sophomore,” Bateman said. “We brought him up as a sophomore, and he started for us. He started all three years. He was a very good linebacker and good field goal/PAT kicker. He played very well for us. We had a good run during his years.”
It is believed that Berkich was the first CHS football player to get a full-ride Division I scholarship out of high school. Unfortunately his college career ended almost before it got started. Berkich suffered a blood clot (in his head) his freshman season.
“I took a few too many hits,” Berkich said. “Coach (Chris) Ault was outstanding during that time. I didn’t have to worry about my scholarship. They (UNR) were outstanding about it.”
Berkich, who is married (Katrin) and has two daughters, Mya (4) and Reese (1), co-owns Mountain High Lawns. He still keeps tabs on his old school.
“I want to thank all my coaches at Carson for all the time they spent away from their families and to coach and make my high school football experience so great,” Berkich said. “I’d like to thank my brothers, Mike and Garrett, for their constant competition, and especially my parents for their endless love and support.
“I try to catch one or two games a year, especially when they are playing at Galena. I always try to go to some games. Coach Roman has done a great job with the program.”
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Boldt competed in football and track for the Senators, then attended Shasta College, where he played both sports.
Boldt’s most memorable moment in high school came in the 1996 season when he picked off a pass against Elko and returned it for a score. Carson went on to win the game in overtime.
“I like to thank my family, Dana and Michelle, for all their support,” Boldt said via e-mail from his home in Switzerland. “I’d also like to thank coach Bateman and coach (Pat) Houlihan for the life lessons they perhaps unknowingly taught me. These two individuals contributed greatly in my overall maturity in life.”
Boldt played football and ran track at Shasta. He had some interest from San Diego State and a couple of D-2 schools, but opted to start to focus on academics.
Boldt has carved out quite a career in the field of science. He received a Ph.D in chemical biology from the Scripps Research Institute, then moved across the pond to head a laboratory at the University of Oxford in England. He is the director of SAFC Commercial (Sigma Aldrich) in Switzerland.
“During my academic career, I published 30 manuscripts and several book chapters in the area of chemical biology,” Boldt said via e-mail. “Subsequent to my academic career, I went on to a commercial role in development and commercialization of drug therapeutics.”
Boldt said that he keeps tab on the Senators through his father, Dana, who works at Carson City Toyota.
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The year of 1979 was a magical one for John Gary.
The Carson grad was all-state in both baseball and football. He is considered by many to be one of the best athletes ever to play at CHS, and he played a big role on the Senators’ state title baseball team in 1979. He received a scholarship to the University of Wyoming and played three years for the Cowboys. He was an all-WAC selection his sophomore year.
“He was known more for baseball than football,” said Ron McNutt, who was an assistant football coach on the 1979 team. “He was a really good hitter; a lot of power. He was a good football player, too. He was a great athlete and a great individual. I’m happy he’s being recognized. It’s well deserved.”
Gary’s highlight came in the homecoming game against Hug when he blocked a punt, picked it up and returned it for a score. He also remembers racking up a couple of quarterback sacks in that contest.
“I got jammed up last year and wasn’t able to make it, but I finally made it out here,” said Gary, who works as a casino supervisor for Harrah’s in Atlantic City and made the trip out with his wife of 27 years, Cindy. “That year (1979) was one of the best years of my life. I grew up with some very special people.”
One of Gary’s friends from high school is current CHS assistant football coach Jim Franz, who played both baseball and football with Gary.
“He was a stud (in baseball),” Franz said. “I think he hit 10 homers his senior year. He was a good football player, too. He played defensive end, and did a good job against the run. Not many teams threw the ball that well back then.”
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Rodela was a three-year varsity player (1982-84), playing on both the offensive and defensive lines. After two losing seasons, the Senators put together a 7-3 season in 1984.
Rodela was a first-team all-league selection on offense and second-team defensive pick his senior year. He also made second-team all-state in 1984.
Rodela was scheduled to be inducted last year, but he would have been unable to attend. Roman moved the induction to this year. He spent 10 years working in California after playing and attending Santa Rosa Junior College, and he has spent the past 17 years working for NDOT.
Rodela said the highlight of his high school career was being named to the Sertoma Classic, and he was a starter in the game.
“That was pretty cool, pretty neat,” Rodella said.
He said that he sees most of his former classmates and teammates during Nevada Day festivities, but has never seen a game at the high school.
Rodella played his entire career at what is now Carson Middle School.