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Former CHS coach still enjoys preps

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Former Carson coach still enjoys prep sports

Dave Price

His role may have been different working for ESPN 630 radio, yet Carl Vinci was right in his element standing on the sideline with Reno High football players during the NIAA 4A state championship football game at Mackay Stadium Saturday in Reno.

“Usually, I watch games and I’m saying, ‘Get rid of the sideline reporters,’ but they let me do commentary from the sideline and it’s great because you can get a good feel for the game when you’re down there bumping shoulders with the kids,” Vinci said.

Vinci has been working with high school athletes in Northern Nevada for the better part of three decades. Longtime fans will remember that he coached Bishop Manogue’s 2A state championship team in 1975 and later served as head coach of Carson’s football program for three seasons in the early 1980s. He was also an assistant on the coaching staff for a Reno team that won state in 1984 – the school’s last title winner before its 26-23 victory against Las Vegas in the 4A final on Saturday.

Vinci spent 13 years overall as a history and sociology teacher at Carson High until he made a move in 1993 to Reno, where he now teaches special education.

“Talk about something rewarding, that’s special ed,” he said.

Vinci has always had a passion when it comes to coaching, teaching, and for sports. And following the Reno Huskies in their improbable state championship march the last two months has provided some unforgettable memories.

“This was a great team,” Vinci said of the Huskies, who rebounded from a 2-5 start games en route to the championship. “The year didn’t begin well with the injuries and all, but there at the end, every game was a pressure game. It was so electrifying.”

Reno won seven straight do-or-die games, including three playoff games on the road against Northern 4A opponents they had lost to earlier in the season. The Huskies capped it all off with a fourth-quarter comeback to knock off previously unbeaten Las Vegas Saturday, as senior running back Conor Martin rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

“Conor Martin reminds me of a couple of kids I used to coach, Tim Maloy at Manogue and Scott Manoukian at Carson; they’re not big, but they’re fast and shifty and they have a knack for following their blockers, keeping their head up, find the hole and cut off it. That’s not something you can teach, it’s just natural,” Vinci said.

“And the thing about that game, even when Conor went down with the injury, Tom Barcia and Ryan Quinlan stepped up and got the job done. It was a total team effort where everyone pitched in to help out,” he added. “That was the key. If you look at any team that wins championships, it’s not because they have star players, it’s because they have that camaraderie and chemistry.”

Vinci had some talent to work with at Carson. Among the standouts was Matt Williams, who started at quarterback as a junior in 1981 and played multiple positions as a senior, went on to a distinguished Major League career with the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Diamondbacks; Charley Kerfeld, a standout defensive end on the 1980 team, went on to pitch in the Majors. Another of the students he worked with was Bruce Barnes, now the head basketball coach at Carson.

The Senators only won 10 games in three seasons, however, and Vinci lost his job after the 1982 season. While the scores of those games have long since been forgotten, the relationships and friendships remain intact.

“The best part of coaching is the relationships you form with the kids,” he said. “Me and a lot of those kids from Carson City are still very close. There’s so many great people and great memories. To me, no matter where you go, the kids are always a lot of fun.”

Vinci always brought a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to the field when he coached, not to mention a tremendous amount of confidence. That was evident during a 1981 interview: “I can’t predict us to lose. It’s just not in my vocabulary. Until you beat us, I’m not going to predict it. We could be playing our season opener against the Green Bay Packers and I would still say we’re going to win. That happens to be the nature of my philosophy.”

Before the start of Manogue’s 1975 state championship season, he was quoted in a Reno newspaper, “I’m not worried about being undefeated, I’m worried about going unscored upon.”

Vinci laughed when he reflected on those days.

“I said a lot of dumb things, but there were times when my kids backed up the things I said,” said Vinci, who can be heard on a weekly football handicapping radio show Thursday evenings from 5 to 6:30 on 1230 KPLY.

“It’s been a great ride. I have a family and a great job. I’ve got no regrets in my life whatsoever.”

Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal