Silver team wins in Sertoma football game
Appeal News Service
RENO – Duke Williams felt right at home, running in every direction at Mackay Stadium.
The graduated senior from Hug High, who will be playing defense for the Wolf Pack in the fall, helped the Silver all-stars defeat the Blue, 32-12, in the 28th annual Sertoma Classic on the University of Nevada campus.
“I started practice already and I’m getting used to the field. It was natural,” said Williams, who was named Silver’s Most Valuable Player along with Blue MVP Lennox Pierce of Reed. “It’s the first full game on this field. It was fun and it’s good before the season starts. It’s very special playing with them (the seniors) one more time.”
Silver used a combination of strong defense and timely offense to take a 15-12 edge in the series. After taking a four-point lead at halftime, Blue’s offense didn’t sync, allowing Silver to score three straight touchdowns.
“Our whole game plan was to let them (Williams and his former Hug teammates) do their thing,” Silver coach Jeff Knutson of Fernley said. “He just did what the team needed today. It worked out well for us.”
Down 12-8 in the third quarter, the Silver offense began to click with Williams at the helm. Williams, though, was supposed to see limited time at QB and more time at safety, but he ended up being the only quarterback.
“Duke Williams is a great athlete you find anywhere in the country,” Knutson said.
Williams connected with former Hug teammate Courtney Gardner for 54 yards on third and long, and then the duo hooked up once more. Williams found Gardner for a 5-yard touchdown completion with 6 minutes, 47 seconds left in the quarter.
The speedy Hawk duo, though, wasn’t done.
With the help of a defense that shut out Blue in the second half and didn’t allow a first down, the offense felt more at ease. After forcing Blue to punt, Williams hooked up with two different receivers – Fernley’s Stephen Abrams for 13 yards and Fallon’s Trent de Braga for 19 – before returning to Gardner.
“It’s always fun getting back out there,” said de Braga, who will play football at Mesa State College in Colorado. “It’s weird playing with these guys. It’s always fun.”
Gardner made Williams’ underthrown pass look easy as he twisted around the defender and hauled it in for a 23-yard score before the quarter ended. Hug completed the hat trick as running back Tonio Burton rushed for a 5-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Blue all-stars needed a comeback to grab its first and only lead of the game.
“They just made some big plays. We tried to do too much on offense,” Blue coach Rick Walker of Dayton said of his team’s struggles. “It’s not like they marched down on us. We couldn’t recover and turnovers hurt us.”
After spotting a 24-yard, Williams touchdown run, Blue came back with two straight touchdowns. Lowry’s Gus Ramasco connected with Pershing County’s Jayce Montes for a 22-yard pass play with 2:29 left in the first quarter. Whittell’s Roberto Concha-Foley found Douglas’ Zach McFadden wide open in the end zone for a 29-yard score in the second quarter.
“It was an awesome and great experience. The kids were fantastic,” Walker said. “Everything was going great. No complaints. It was a fantastic experience.”
NOTES: Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class (AW/NAC) Sean M. Ward, 20, one of five crewmen who died when their HH-60 helicopter plunged into the Pacific Ocean May 19 during normal training maneuvers, was honored with a moment of silence before the game. Ward, of Pershing County, played in the 2006 Classic and was named the MVP … Channel 2 Chief Meteorologist Mike Alger sung the National Anthem … Jim Jeffers and his son, Stephen, were honored at the coin toss for being the first father-son duo to play in the Classic. The elder Jeffers played in the 1982 game while his son was on this year’s Blue team.