For the past three years, the Fernley football team has steadily climbed the ranks of the Northern Division I-A.
Under coach Chris Ward, the Vaqueros have become a legitimate threat to win the league title. And for all-state offensive lineman Tyler Roemer, a championship is the goal.
“I feel like we are going to have a great season,” he said. “I feel like we’ll end up taking our league. We have the speed and got enough size to work with.”
As for the season outlook, Ward said the road to a title is the expectation but knows it won’t come easy. Fallon and Elko enter the season as two of the favorites, along with Fernley, but several coaching changes also put into question how the season will play out.
Dayton, South Tahoe and Lowry all have new leaders, while Sparks has had a large turnout early in the fall.
“You never know with those Reno schools because they hop around schools so dang quick,” Ward said. “The Elko schools will be good. You never know with these other schools with new coaches.”
Like much of the league, Fernley saw its share of turnover on the roster. The Vaqueros quarterback competition between senior Kyle Throckmorton and junior Rena Arroyo will spill into today’s nonconference game at 7 p.m. against Hug.
“Both have their strengths,” Ward said of his two QBs. “I wish we could morph them into one.”
But the one, big constant for Fernley is Roemer. At 6-foot-6 inches, 290 pounds, the senior is not only a prized NCCA Division I recruit, but also arguably the best lineman in the league.
Roemer currently holds scholarship offers from Louisville and San Diego State with Utah expected to offer after Week 3, he said.
Despite all the recruiting, Roemer is focused on getting his Vaqueros to a league title and beyond.
The massive senior will anchor both sides of the trenches for Fernley, but most of his damage comes on offense, where he puts opponents on their backs consistently.
“These juniors are looking up to us, so we have to set the example,” Roemer said. “Fernley is known for hitting big and hard. We’ve got the speed and the aggression.”
Whether Throckmorton or Arroyo nails the starting spot, Fernley is loaded with talent on the offensive side. Although the Vaqueros lost much of their production from last year, Fernley reloaded with the likes of Eddie Sloan, A.C. Reyes, Kenan McDonald and Sam Ramirez.
The athletic trio can catch and run, making them prime for explosive plays as evident in their scrimmage two weeks ago against Douglas. Each had at least one big play with Sloan having the biggest as he hauled in a 55-yard touchdown pass and shaking off several Tigers defenders.
Much of the Vaqueros’ production, though, comes from the triple-option run game implemented by Ward several years ago. With athletic backs and a line getting blocks on linebackers, Fernley’s run game has been a force over the past two seasons.
Should Arroyo start at QB, Throckmorton would compliment him in the backfield. Throckmorton rushed for 557 yards on 48 carries with seven touchdowns last year and is the Vaqueros’ most experienced back.
“I love the triple-option and it’s just my offense,” Throckmorton said. “It’s a speedy offense and that’s what I am, just a speedy little guy. When a play breaks down, it’s huge to try and make something happen.”
As for the offensive line, Ward said last week two spots are up for the taking and is anxious to see who will take those positions.
“I think we are pretty solid inside,” Ward said.
While Fernley may not be the beefiest team in the league, the Vaqueros have relied on their speed in past and will do so again this year. Active linebackers such as Ramirez and Reyes fly to the ball and limit opposing offense’s capabilities.
In the defensive backfield, Sloan, McDonald and possibly Throckmorton provide one of the league’s best secondaries.
McDonald tallied a team-high four interceptions with 21 tackles last season.
“We fly around pretty well,” Ward said. “We just have to clean up some things.