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Showcasing what you’ve got

Best Coast Showcase helps build profile for three standout Tiger football players

By Carter Eckl ceckl@nevadaappeal.com

Even though their high school season may be shortened and moved to the spring, a few Douglas High football players are still finding ways of getting their names into the atmosphere of college scouts.

Seniors Cameron Swain and Trevor Kruger, as well as junior Christopher Smalley, attended the Best Coast Showcase in Reno last weekend after being invited to compete against some of the best high school talent in Northern Nevada and California.

With the showcase broken into groups by position and spaced out into pods of 12 to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, all three had different experiences in the non-contact camp.

Even so, being able to compete again in some fashion as an athlete and as a football player brought out a sense of normalcy.

“I felt like it was an opportunity to compete and we haven’t been able to compete since November of last year. It felt like football again. That was exciting,” said Kruger, who is a mainstay as a running back for Douglas.

“It was cool to see how you stacked up against everyone else,” echoed Smalley, who was the Tigers’ second leading tackler last season as a linebacker.

All the reps at the showcase were recorded and Best Coast Showcase sent every athlete’s tape to other recruiting services as well as colleges across the country.

All three Tigers have drawn collegiate interest.

“It was a really good opportunity to compete against talented players across the west coast. It really helped me hone in on what skills I need to be better at,” Swain said, who at 6-foot-3 has shown his versatility between wideout and tight end.

Smalley even picked up a win in the fastest man races put on by the camp, which he said he felt helped push him ahead of other athletes in attendance and earned him a “Day Two MVP” shoutout on social media from a coach in attendance.

As a wideout, Swain said he ran into a handful of familiar faces at the showcase while Smalley and Kruger both said they were around mostly players they were unfamiliar with.

All three weren’t shy to admit that football presents challenges when it comes to safe, social distancing.

Summer workouts through the high school program had been limited to strictly outdoor work, meaning the trio along with their Tiger teammates were doing sandbag workouts in the Nevada heat instead of lifting inside of an air conditioned room.

Smalley also said he has turned to garage workouts with his dad to stay in shape.

After the NIAA’s recent decision to move the fall sports and football season to February and shrink it to six weeks, the trio of Tigers know what they need to do to keep their college possibilities wide open when the country gets back to its regular pace.

“It was a great experience. I think the only thing I need to work on is eating more and getting bigger,” said Kruger.

“Being as big as I am, a lot of coaches see me as a tight end,” said Swain. “Doing that shows my footwork, speed, route running, makes me feel like I can play wide receiver at the next level too, which is nice.”

Douglas head coach Ernie Monfiletto was proud of the trio finding ways to continue to build their profiles.

“These three are incredibly deserving of that opportunity, along with some others on our team who are right there with them,” said Monfiletto. “The two seniors in Cameron and Trevor have been leaders for this team the last two years and Christopher has just been blessed with a whole lot of natural gifts, talent and work ethic.”

Even though the showcase is over, the training won’t stop for the Douglas athletes, who know it’s just a matter of time before they get their shot at the next level.