Sertoma football game ready to kickoff |

Sertoma football game ready to kickoff

Justin Lawson

The Sertoma Football Classic gives high school players one last chance to strap on the pads and hit someone in the mouth, but for the coaching staff it’s a chance to see different players on their own sideline and not stress about the final score.

“I had a little bit of an idea because I’ve done it for a couple of years, this is just my first as a head coach,” said Dayton coach Rick Walker, who will serve as the head coach for the Blue team for the first time after spending several previous games as a position coach. “They’re just great kids, who are a lot of fun to coach. They’re motivated, I’m just trying not to screw them up too much.”

Walker shouldn’t have to deal with too many small details with his group, which includes two Dayton players, three from Carson and six more from Douglas. He will also have the talent of players from Bishop Manogue, Damonte Ranch, Elko, Galena, Lowry, North Tahoe, Pershing County, Reed, Silver Stage, South Tahoe and Whittell.

He will lead his Blue team against the Silver squad at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Mackay Stadium. The 28th version of the game, which began in 1981, is a chance for athletes to show off their skills in front of a smattering of scouts and to raise money for the Sparks Setoma, which donates to several area charities and community groups.

With all the big-school players being mixed in with players from schools as small as 2A, the question remains how competitive are these small-school athletes going to be?

“I think they do fit, even the Lovelock guys,” Walker said. “There’s usually one or two from Dayton and eight or nine from Reed or Douglas. So there’s not of a lot of them, but our kids can play (with the bigger schools).”

Walker and Silver team coach Jeff Knutson of Fernley drafted from a pool of graduating seniors from 4A, 3A and 2A schools from Northern Nevada and California. They selected about 50 players each and players held the right to play or not. Both teams will have about 45 players on game day.

Walker will know early on just how well his players fit in with the big-school players. There are four players on the Silver squad who have committed to Division-I universities – Hug’s Duke Williams and Courtney Gardner (Nevada, although Gardner has not signed his letter of intent) and McQueen’s Tyler York (Cal) and Karrington Armstrong (Oregon) – and a few more that could play at the D-I level before they’re done with college.

The Silver team is not without its high-profile players though, Manogue’s Jamie Clavell-Head will play at Texas State and Steven Jeffers will play at Nevada, in addition to Sierra League Offensive Player of the Year Timothy Rudnick (Douglas).

“We’ll mix it pretty good,” Walker said. “We’ll spread it out and use some power-i stuff. It’s just utilizing the guys that we have.”

Like most all-star games, the two teams have had limited practices – four each – so the schemes will be limited and the final score will largely be left to the players on the field.

“They have the same amount of practices as we have and I tried to draft the best that I could,” Walker said. “So we’ll see how good I drafted.”