Douglas' Mike Rippee readily admits that he threw a lot at his Silver squad in preparation for tonight's (7:30 p.m.) 23rd annual Sertoma Football Classic game against the Blue at Mackay Stadium.
"These kids have picked things up pretty quick," said Rippee, who has enjoyed his second all-star coaching assignment. "We did things in a couple of days that it normally takes a week to pick up.
"We had to fight through the first couple of days. Some of the guys didn't show up in great shape. The enthusiasm has been good, and the kids have enjoyed getting to know one another."
Rippee's counterpart, Fernley's Dave Hart, agreed.
"Every year it amazes me," Hart said. "You plan 30 minutes for something, and it takes 10 minutes to get it done. They pick up things so fast."
Rippee's job was easier because there are 10 Douglas players - Luke Rippee, Nick Summers, Stormy Herald, Andy McIntosh, Paul Mannelly, Dusty Cooper, Jake Peterson, Dan Senger, Anthony Ripoli and Nate Walsh - on the squad, and they are pretty much split evenly on offense and defense.
"That does make it easier," said Rippee, who didn't disclose his starting lineup. "We're running pretty much our (Douglas) offense and defense."
Rippee said that everybody will play, and for the most part, he will probably rotate by units. At least two players, Luke Rippee and Quincy Mosley of McQueen, are expected to see extensive action on both sides of the ball.
Hart also said that he would rotate players each series for the first three quarters, and then would go with whomever was playing the best in the final quarter.
With only 3 1/2 days of practice, Rippee admits the defensive units usually have an advantage in all-star games.
"Defense is instinctive and reactive," Rippee said. "Defense adjusts to what they're shown. Offensively, it will be a little tough to have a eight, nine or 10-play drive."
However, coach Rippee has some very high-profile skill guys on offense, players that are capable of scoring on one play or grinding it out on the ground.
At quarterback, Luke Rippee passed for nearly 1,300 yards during the regular season, while McQueen's Dustin Rosnes passed for 770. South Tahoe's Grant Swinney (1,754 yards) and Cooper (1,219) will handle the tailback chores. Tyler Carroll of Elko, Mosley and McIntosh (35 catches, 629 yards). The tight ends are Carson's Nick Shine, Summers, Herald and Senger, the latter three from Douglas.
Rippee has been impressed with the physicalness of his team on both sides of the ball. He especially likes what he's seen of Bishop Manogue's 6-foot-5 300-pound Bobby Lepori, who is headed to Nevada.
"I've seen some pretty good linemen (over the years), and he's as good as anybody I've ever coached," Rippee said. "That kid is a player."
Hart is hoping his defense, led by Reno linemen Sean Bingham and Wes Evans, and Spring Creek's John Gaylor, Spanish Springs' Billy Bailie and Dayton's Joe Sandoval have played well in practice.
"Those three (Evans, Bingham, Gaylor) are as good as I've coached," Hart said. "The whole group of defensive linemen was pretty dominant this week during practice. They've all got good size."
Reno's Ryan McKinley and Jake Killeen lead the linebacking corp, while Hug's Francis Hunt and Reno's Julius Broussard are solid secondary players.
The Blue squad has some firepower of its own.
Wooster quarterback Iain Dykins passed for 720 yards and Hug's Mitchell Moore, who rushed for 1,038 yards, and Reno workhorse Conor Martin, who sparked Reno to a 4A regional win over Douglas, could give Silver defenders some problems.
"No doubt about it, they have some top kids over there," Rippee said.
The Silver defense is strong at linebacker with Ripoli and Peterson plus Carson's duo of Shine and John Stewart. Senger has been impressive on the defensive line, and Manogue's Matt Virden will play outside linebacker. Rippee did say that the team lacks many true cornerbacks, forcing some safety-type players like Carson's Danny Rotter to play cornerback.
NOTES: The Blue squad lost seven players, and will field just 38 for Friday's game... Both coaches indicated that the players were excited to be playing in a college stadium. Manogue, Reno and Battle Mountain are the only schools that have already played on the field turf playing surface because they played in the NIAA finals in their respective divisions.