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Sertoma Classic is set

By Charles Whisnand

Appeal Sports Editor

The outcome of Friday’s Sertoma All-Star Football Game may have been decided last spring.

While this week’s practice for the Silver and Blue squads will certainly have a lot to do with the outcome of the game to kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Mackay Stadium, there was plenty of pressure on Reno High coach Dan Avansino and Yerington coach Cody Neville.

In recent years, a draft has been held in which the two coaches select the schools they want represented on their teams. The change was made in an effort to make sure that the game would be as competitive as possible.

So there was plenty of pressure on Avansino, who’s coaching the Blue team, and Neville, who’s coaching the Silver team. When the two held their draft, there was a two-minute time limit for each coach between picks and Avansino admitted it was tough.

“There is pressure,” he said. “You really feel the pressure. It was actually exciting. It was actually a fun thing.”

And Avansino said he likes the change that was made. “You have a better chance of having a competitive game with the current format,” Avansino said.

Neville admitted that preparing for the draft was more time consuming than he expected. Not only did Neville say he had to worry about which schools he would draft, but had to make sure that he had enough players spread out through all the positions.

“I think it’s a pretty good opportunity for it to be as fair as possible,” said Neville about the draft’s effect on the game. “Things aren’t quite perfect.

“It was a lot more time than I anticipated. It panned out really well for me making the extra effort.”

Neville said he’s been able to put into place two teams on offense and defense which will ensure that all the players will receive as much playing time as possible. With only four days to prepare for the game, Neville said having enough players at all the positions has also allowed him to keep the game plan as simple as possible.

The circumstances of who was available in the draft caused a problem for Avansino as he has been left with a team that doesn’t have a quarterback on the roster. But the Blue team has plenty of versatile players who can fill in at quarterback, with the most likely candidate being Sparks’ Zack Quilici, who’s listed on the roster as a wide receiver and defensive back, but was one of Northern Nevada’s versatile players last season.

And the Blue is loaded with talent with players from the Northern 4A’s top two teams last year in champion McQueen and runner-up Galena. And of course, Avansino has his own players from Reno High and players from Manogue, two other Northern 4A powers.

The Blue team features McQueen running back Styker Ngongoseke, who will play at the University of Nevada as a preferred walk-on, Manogue lineman Joe Bartlett and Galena fullback/linebacker Jake Hess, who will play at Boise State as a preferred walk-on.

“That’s going to be a little bit of a challenge to overcome,” said Avansino about not having a true quarterback. “We’ll find a way to be competitive.

“We’ll find a way to put a package together so we can actually attack a defense. Hopefully we can run the football.”

Avansino also said he’s putting in a game plan to prepare for the scenario in which his team falls behind.

“We’re going to try to do all that with five practices,” Avansino said. “Ideally if we can run the football that will make it a lot easier.”

Neville said he was preparing for “power-type football at us. We’re game-planning around that.”

The Silver team under Neville has players from Northern 4A powers Hug, Douglas and Reed and of course players from his own Yerington team, which finished as the Northern 2A runner-up last season. Neville is plenty deep at quarterback with the versatile Zack Parker of Reed, one of the Northern 4A’s top players last year, his own Daiel Bauer of Yerington, another versatile player, Damonte Ranch’s Brock Frank and Lovelock’s Karl Fredericks.

There’s plenty of running backs as well with the likes of Douglas High’s Brock Peterson and Brandon Lowrance and North Valley’s Chris Castellanos. Among the other top players is Nevada-bound lineman Jeff Nady of Douglas.

There’s plenty of versatile players who can catch the ball as well, including Carson’s Chris McBroom. Carson is also represented by linemen Mitch Brantingham and Matt Kleinfeldt. “We’ve got some guys that can throw and catch the ball really well,” Neville said.

Avansino admitted that while this week isn’t as intense, the competitive juices flow. And he said it helps that he’s been a player in an all-star game.

“It gives me a perspective,” he said. “The goal is to win the game. That’s the reason why you do anything.”