FERNLEY - Shame on the Fernley baseball team.
After winning the school's first ever state championship in the sport last spring, they set a new bar of excellence for the future of Vaquero sports.
The Fernley football team, which has never won a state championship before, just like the baseball team hadn't, wants something it's never experienced.
"We're working hard towards a state championship," said quarterback Matt Lambeth, who was a major part of the Vaqueros' state baseball championship team. "We haven't had that out here before. And we know we can do it. Now it's time. Everybody knows it's not impossible now."
Fernley coach Dave Hart's goals for the 2001 season remain a bit more modest, though he acknowledges the baseball team definitely set a precedent.
"We want to make the playoffs. That's always been our first goal," Hart said. "We also want to win Lyon County (vs. Yerington, vs. Dayton). But the baseball team won the state championship and there's a lot of kids on this team that were on that team. They kind of showed us that it's possible. So that would be our ultimate goal (winning a state championship)."
But first, making the playoffs is probably a more logical step. It's something that Fernley hasn't done since 1998.
The Vaqueros graduated 18 players off last season's team that went just 4-4 in the Northern 3A last season and 5-4 overall. Fernley is off to 1-0 start after its 45-0 win over Lovelock last Friday.
There are 14 returnees, including Lambeth, who has already attracted big-time Division I schools to visit Fernley's campus. Last season, Lambeth passed for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 437 yards and three TDs.
"He's obviously going to be a big part of our offense, definitely," said Hart of Lambeth, who has gotten recruiting interest anywhere from Oregon State University to Purdue University. "We have a lot of weapons but it's gotta' start with him."
Fernley's top three receivers return from last season, including Adam Schwab. The Vaqueros also welcome back running back Danny Maguin, who had a breakthrough season last year behind senior Doug Fennessey.
Maguin rushed for two touchdowns and over 100 yards last week against the Mustangs.
And because of Maguin, who can bust out for big runs and catch the ball for big yardage, Fernley should be able to open up its offense more this season.
"We're going to run the option but we'll also try and spread it out a bit," Hart said. "Danny had most of the big plays for us last year. He had three runs for 80 yards or more. Not a real big kid, but quick and he's got real good speed."
Besides having big offensive and defensive lines, a potential x-factor for the Vaqueros could be tight end Tim Hines, who played soccer the past three years.
"He's never played football before but he's got a lot of upside," Hart said of the 6-foot-6 senior. "He's looking good right now. Our tackles go 265, 285, and 265 pounds, and they all are fairly mobile for their size. So we're excited about that."
Kyle Davis, one of the best linebackers in the Northern 3A, and James Barnes, an all-state defensive end, will lead the defense. Barnes was also a second-team all conference tackle. Hart thinks he should've been on the first-team,
"The team looks really good," Barnes said. "We have a lot of big lineman coming up and we do have some young guys, but hopefully we'll get them in shape. We lost a lot of seniors last year but the young guys are looking really good."
Davis, a catcher on the Vaqueros' state championship baseball team, will also go both ways. Hart's going to play Davis as a center. Blocking for Lambeth brings a certain responsibility but Davis says he'll be too scared to let him down.
"I don't want him to make him get mad at me, so I'm going to block for him as hard as a I can," Davis said. "I just want to help the team out do what I need to do."
As if Davis and the other lineman needed it, Lambeth's putting Fernley's playoff and state championship hopes on them.
"We have a good line and we'll go as far as they'll take us," said Lambeth, who's also one of Fernley's top defensive backs.
If nothing else, Barnes thinks a Lyon County championship is a given.
"Lyon County, we're going to get for sure. I'm pretty positive of that," Barnes said.
It's good to have goals, Schwab said. But offering predictions is premature at this point.
"I can't say too much because the season hasn't really started yet," Schwab said. "You can't predict the future."
2001 Vaqueros Schedule
Aug. 24-vs. Lovelock, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 -vs. Fernley, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15- @ R.O.P, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 21-vs. Lowry, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29- @ No. Tahoe, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 5-vs. Truckee, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12-@ Spring Creek, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25-vs. Dayton, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 3-@ Manogue, 12:30 p.m.
2000 record: 5-4 overall, 4-4 Northern 4A
Varsity players lost: 18
Key Returnees: Matt Lambeth, QB/DB, Adam Schwab, WR, Kyle Davis, LB/C, James Barnes, DE/OT, Danny Maguin, RB. Key losses: Scott Gillespie, Doug Fennessey, Mike Hudgins, Scott Burton.