Football coming to Virginia City

There's been trouble in Virginia City for some time until now. The Muckers will finally be playing football.

Virginia City High School will field a football team in the fall of 2007. According to Virginia City principal Patrick Beckwith, the school did last play football some time around the early 1950s in a less than formal manner. It's not like the community wasn't interested in having a football team. The biggest problem was the school really had no place to play.

But that was taken care of when a bond measure was passed to fund a facility with field turf in 2004. The facility will be used for football, physical education and softball.

"The biggest hurdle for us was a facility," said Virginia City principal Patrick Beckwith about what stood in the way for the school to have a football team again. He added the effort to reinstate football has been going on for the last five to six years.

"We desperately needed this for a variety of reasons," said Beckwith about the new athletic field. The athletic field will be built adjacent to the high school on the north side of the campus.

Beckwith said it's hoped that the facility will be completed in time for the 2007 season, but if not there have been talks with other area schools asking them if they could host games for Virginia City. Beckwith said those schools have been receptive.

The field will be a regulation-size 120-yard football field when including the end zones. Virginia City will compete in the 1A division, which plays eight-man football. In the 1A division, eight-man football games are typically played on fields that are 120 yards long, but boundaries are set up to make the field not as wide and the same will be done at Virginia City. It's planned for Virginia City to join the Western 1A league and the Muckers will be eligible for the playoffs in their first year of competition. Viriginia City will likely play in the Western 1A with schools like Smith Valley, Pyramid Lake and Coleville.

Based on the potential turnout, Virgina City could be competitive right away. In a recent meeting there were 32 boys in grades 9-11 that showed interest who could form a varsity team, an outstanding turnout for a school with a total enrollment of about 135. Most 1A schools generally do well to have slightly more than 20 players on a team. And that's not counting the eighth graders who will be coming in.

"I know we have a good group of eighth graders coming up," Beckwith said. "We are one of the larger 1A schools."

For Virginia City the biggest issues shouldn't be manpower but experience. Even with a potentially large number of players, the Muckers will have only a handfull who have ever played football before.

When asked how soon Virginia City can be competitive," Beckwith said, "That's a tough question. I think we can be competitive fairly quickly.

"I think we'll have the numbers. We'll have the athletic ability. It's just going to be teaching our kids the fundamentals. That's going to be the biggest thing for us.

"I'm sure we'll take our lumps. But I think in time we'll be competitive. There's no reason we shouldn't be."

With an urgent need to begin teaching the Mucker players fundamentals, the school plans to have a coach hired by March 1. Beckwith said assistant coaches from 4A programs and current and past 1A coaches have applied. "I'm really pleased with the quality of coaching candidates," Beckwith said.

While the funding is in place for the facility, Virginia City faces a major challenge in funding the rest of the football program. The Mucker Football Kickoff Campaign has begun to raise the funds. Beckwith said it will cost $600 per player for their football equipment alone, meaning up to $24,000 will be needed to outfit the players alone.

But along with the players' response, Beckwith said the response of the community has also been overwhelming.

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