Fernley doesn’t want to be left out of playoffs
Appeal News Service
After coming within inches of making the Northern 3A playoffs, Fernley football coach Mark Hodges doesn’t want the same story to be told this season.
Instead, making the playoffs has become a greater goal. The quest starts Friday when his Vaqueros travel to Fallon after handing the Greenwave their first ever loss to Fernley last year.
“Our goal every year is to win every game we’re in,” Hodges said. “This group of seniors are set and oriented. They do a good job, stay focused and are prepared.”
Hodges knows the league will be tough again, especially with Dayton, Spring Creek and even Sparks, a team that played the sleeper role late in the season and advanced to state. Fernley, though, beat Sparks on homecoming.
“It’s going to be a very tough league, very competitive group of teams,” Hodges said. “The coaching is all really good.”
Last season when teams from the Northern 3A squared off against the Northern 4A, the smaller schools went undefeated including Fernley’s win over Fallon and Sparks’ victory against Spanish Springs.
Hodges, though, said the Northern 3A is just as competitive as the bigger schools. However, the schools lack depth.
“The Northern 3A isn’t too bad. If anything is lacking, it’s numbers,” he said.
To Hodges, Sparks looks like the team to beat this season.
“Flip a coin,” he said about the league champ. “Sparks had the most returning all-conference players. However, we had the second most. It’s going to be exactly like last year.”
Fernley returns a potent offense led by quarterback Bryce Baker.
“He’s looking pretty good. He was the top quarterback at the Oregon camp,” Hodges said of Baker. “He does pretty well. He’s ahead of his prime as a sophomore. He seems to soak up things pretty well.”
Hodges will have his options with the offense. He has a couple wide receivers with solid speed, two mobile tight ends and a couple tailbacks to run the single-back set.
“We’ll spread the ball around,” Hodges said.
Brian Bradley and Jacob Lehman will be Baker’s primary targets in the air along with tight ends Jace Gledhill and Josh Cutts. Running the ball will be Neil Kendricks and Tre Hansen.
“We’re doing a West Coast playbook,” Hodges said. “The scrimmage (Aug. 18 at Wooster) went really well. We didn’t get hurt, and we came out healthy.”
Travis Stoffel returns to the team as the center, and he’ll be accompanied by Mike Tachera, Zach Carrick and Phillip Tretheway. One of the best players in the league being recruited by four Pac-10 schools is left guard Kevin Hart.
Austin Wilson (LB), Cory Jansen (CB), Lehman (CB), Bradley (SS) and Kendricks (FS) are players to watch on defense.
After playing Wooster in a scrimmage, Hodges said the defense needed work before Fernley plays Fallon.
“We need to play better assignment football on defense,” he said. “Our timing is also off. It’s not where it should be. These are some things we need to brush up on. Their effort is there.”
The Vaqueros open league play Sept. 14 when they travel to Lowry. The first home game is Sept. 8 against Faith Lutheran.