There’s football in Virginia City again
Appeal Sports Writer
VIRGINIA CITY – Even before Nevada became a full-fledged state in 1864 and Lake’s Crossing was eventually renamed Reno later that decade, Virginia City was already making history with the discovery of the Comstock Lode and its silver ore.
Though not as momentous as the days of yore, Virginia City is once again experiencing events of historical import – at least in the world of sports.
For the first time since 1943, Virginia City High School will field a football team this season. Out of a student body of only 154, the Muckers now have a roster of 30 players that are eager to put their team on the map.
And the players are not alone.
“The community reaction so far has been great,” said the Mucker’s coach, Ron Presley, whose team will play eight-man football in the Western Division of the Northern 1A. “The community is way behind us. We get parents here almost every practice. We’ve had 200 people for a scrimmage.”
Although the team is technically larger than the one that played six-man football in 1943, it has no freshman or junior varsity teams to draw from and many of its players come from as far away as Lockwood and Mark Twain.
“Getting them here every day is an effort,” said Presley, who commutes daily from Reno. “The district gave us a special bus that goes down and brings them here for football and takes them home. It’s a burden on parents to get them here by 4 p.m.”
Then there’s another factor that Presley, who coached Manogue’s freshman and JV teams the last six years, defensive coordinator Don Dame (who has worked with Presley for 15 years), Ed Reed (quarterbacks and running backs coach) and Brett Barnes (wide receivers and cornerbacks coach) have to contend with.
“You have kids that haven’t played anything but Pop Warner,” Presley said. “We have nine seniors, but they haven’t played anywhere from three to five years. Everything’s new for them.
“In Pop Warner you’re at the same skill level. Our seniors haven’t played, but the rest of the schools’ players have been playing four years.”
But Presley was happy with the progress his raw team had made from summer training (the coaches even had to show half their players how to put on their pads) to Saturday’s scrimmage with Coleville.
While the Muckers did give up six touchdowns, they did manage to score two of their own.
“This is walk before you run – actually, it’s baby steps,” Presley said. “Coleville beat us, but we learned a lot, which is good for us. A lot of our kids never had contact before. We scored on a pass and a run, so we’re not one-dimensional.
“They learn every day, that’s the key. As long as we learn and get better, we’ll be OK.”
Presley, who took the job because it sounded like fun and he liked the environment of Virginia City (“On the football field you can see Six-Mile Canyon one way and the city the other,” he said with a smile), also said some leaders are emerging for the Muckers.
A pair of seniors, Cory Monroe, who will start at tight end and safety, and starting quarterback Matt McDougald are expected to pilot the Muckers on their maiden voyage on the road Friday against Carlin, beginning at 7 p.m.
The pair will be joined by other starters such as junior David Grey (center/noseguard), senior Zack Ullom (running back/cornerback), senior Danny Millim (running back/linebacker), freshman Heath Millim (tight end), junior Joe Avignone (offensive guard), sophomore Brad Amorati (offensive guard), senior Jared Craig (linebacker), junior Jose Martinez (cornerback), freshman Zach Shell (cornerback), sophomore Colt Dotson (defensive end), and senior Kris Eaton (linebacker).
“If we can be competitive against Carlin, we will be ecstatic, especially if we don’t get beat by 60 points,” Presley said. “Carlin is one of the top teams in the state. If we can hold our own, we’ll be happy.”
Virginia City will play its first home game against Lee Vining (Calif.) Sept.1 at 1 p.m., a prospect that brought a smile to Presley’s face as he neared the brand new artificial field (VCHS chose a 100 x 40-yard field over the traditional eight-man 80 x 40 field).
“The view is beautiful,” Presley said. “They’re bringing in bleachers and powder-coating them to match (the color of surrounding buildings). They didn’t want them to look too new. And it’s tough to grow grass on mine tailings.”
The field is a touch of 21st century technology placed in a 19th century environment. Virginia City may not have unearthed silver ore this time, but it just may have struck a different kind of gold.
•Contact Mike Houser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1220