RENO -- One look at the rosters for the 22nd annual Sertoma Classic game and the outcome appears as obvious as the sun rising each morning. The West team has players from McQueen, Reno, Galena, Douglas, as well as from 3A powers Manogue and Truckee. The East team....well, it doesn't have players from any of those teams, which should be enough to write off their chances, right? Wrong.
"You know the last time I coached one of these things, my team was the big underdog and the other team was loaded," said West coach Bob Shaffer, who led Truckee to a state runner up finish and a 9-3 overall record in 2002. "I think at the local sports book we were a 24-point underdog. We ended up winning something like 28-14. You just never know. You put all this individual talent together, but you never know how they're going to absorb a new offense and defense in just a few days."
The East team, which is comprised of those players east of Highway 395, can only hope that will be the case when the game kicks off tonight at 7:20 at Reno High's Foster Field. But Spring Creek's Joel Jund, who is the coach of the East, thinks comparing rosters is a bit foolish.
"We obviously have a lot of respect for the other team, but we have some players over here," said Jund, who led the Spartans to a 5-4 overall record in 2002. "We feel we have a lot of talent and I think the guys are just looking forward to playing again on Friday. There's no predictions. I'm just going to coach and the guys are just going to play."
Jund was scheduled to coach the East team in last year's Sertoma Classic. But, for the first time ever, the game was canceled because of inclement weather. If the game hadn't been canceled, Jund would've had several highly talented Elko players at his disposal, as well as players such as Fernley's Matt Lambeth and Wooster's J.J. Milan.
This year, though, he doesn't have as much talent to work with, at least not compared with the West.
"Yeah, they're definitely stacked over there but I think we'll be all right," said Carson's George Pincock, who is one of three Senators on the East team.
The West has all the Division I players. Reno's Josh Barrett has signed with Arizona State and McQueen's Clint Stitser with Fresno State. McQueen's Charles Tolbert and Mohu Otuafi were both recruited to Division I schools and Manogue's Cody McElroy will walk on at Nevada.
"You look out on the field and it's like a who's who for Northern Nevada football," said Douglas' Drew Bateman, who gets the privilege of playing on the favored team tonight. "You got all the players from McQueen and Reno. I'm impressed. It's definitely the best team I've ever played on and I think most of the other guys would say the same thing."
Elko's Cavender twins, Pete and Jeff, who both committed to Boise State, aren't playing in tonight's game. Among the East players who has signed with a college is Carson running back Chris Kotter, who has signed with South Dakota Tech.