BEHIND THE PLATE: Seniors cap career at Sertoma Classic |

BEHIND THE PLATE: Seniors cap career at Sertoma Classic

On one cool Friday evening every June, some of the best football players you will encounter hit the field one last time before taking the next step of their journey.

Some go on to play at a Division I school with a few fortunate enough to make it to a big-time school and play on TV every weekend. Some who have talent but not quite the caliber required at the highest college level settle for Division II or III, or even the NAIA. Others take the baby-step approach and play at a junior college before making the jump to a four-year school.

What happens to the rest? Tonight is the last time they’ll lace up the cleats, carry shoulder pads and bash heads with the opposition.

The 32nd annual Sparks Sertoma Classic, an all-star football showcase featuring the best graduating seniors from 30 Northern Nevada schools, concludes the high school season as these seniors prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives. It might involve playing at the next level, going to school to focus strictly on academics and an internship soon to follow, or even entering the work force full time to get a jump-start on earning an income.

The annual all-star game honors the best football players in the region for their outstanding seasons in the fall. It features some of the best competition you will find on a high school football field. The game has served some good moments and remarkable performances, including two MVP displays from former Greenwave stars Josh Mauga and Joe Leon.

Mauga, who played four years at Nevada before signing with the New York Jets, got a good taste of Mackay Stadium during the Sertoma Classic. The linebacker was a force on the field as he led his all-stars to victory seven years ago. He showed everyone why he belonged with the Wolf Pack and his skills and work ethic benefited him immensely in high school, college and now with the Jets.

Leon followed Mauga’s performance with an impressive showing on the opposite side of the ball. Two years after Mauga’s impressive outing, Leon caught a 67-yard touchdown pass on the game’s third play and then scored the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard run to propel the Silver team past the Blue.

But with the great performances showcased in the annual all-star game, there have been some poor displays of sportsmanship.

The game has been called early recently because of teams not getting along and fights ensuing. Ejections are not rare anymore and tempers boil, which has tarnished the game’s objective of giving Northern Nevada one last chance to see the best seniors play before parting ways.

The Sertoma Classic has been running strong since its inception and moving to Damonte Ranch two years ago has made the event more successful and enjoyable. No matter how many high school fans you plow into Mackay Stadium, it still feels empty with only a few thousand in attendance. Playing at a high school venue has eliminated that ghostly factor and enhanced the experienced.

The class of 2013 gets to send off its best football players tonight and be prepared to be amazed of the amount of good talent in Northern Nevada. The all-star game is nothing like you’ve seen during the regular season.

Thomas Ranson can be contacted at