This group of athletes has a fine future |

This group of athletes has a fine future

Trevor Clark/Nevada Appeal

They’ve been a group of athletes that have been followed for quite some time now and they haven’t even made it to high school, yet.

It’s been a long time since Carson City has had a class like this and it could be a long time before a class ever comes along like this again in the community. Now eighth graders, this group of athletes has already made a name for themselves.

They’ve returned to the football field this fall and the Carson Senator Midget Pop Warner football team has its eyes on winning a national title, which is about the only accomplishment that has eluded this group over the last several years.

Many of the athletes have already been back to Orlando, Fla., when their Carson team went on to finish fourth in the nation in 2004.

In 2005, the team advanced to the Regional Championships where it lost to the Hollister (Calif.) Vikings, a team that ended up second in the nation. Carson finished ninth in the nation.

Last year’s team sustained a minor disappointment when its only regular season loss came in a double overtime defeat against the Sparks Steelers. But this year’s team looks to be back on track as its posted a 4-0 record so far this season.

The goal for the team is to win the Northern Nevada Snow Bowl Championship, then the regionals which would qualify it for the nationals in Orlando.

Coach Ron Pacheco knows it’s not a given that this team will win the Snow Bowl and then the regionals to make it to nationals. If his team wins the Snow Bowl, Pacheco said a lot will depend on the caliber of teams it would have to face from California in the regionals. But Pacheco likes his team’s chances.

“We don’t want to count our chickens before they’re hatched,” Pacheco said. “but we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

Along with Pacheco, the team’s coaches of Leonard Lee, John Lander, Junior Lopez, Steve Sawyers and Jay Aiazzi has 68 years of youth football coaching experience. In all their years of coaching, Pacheco said all of the coaches agree “this group of kinds has more talent than we’ve ever coached.”

Since 2002, the nucleus of this team has posted 29 shutouts in youth football, not even counting the 2003 season in which records weren’t available. That 2002 team posted an 8-1 record.

The nucleus of this group of kids has also been outstanding in other sports. Last year as seventh graders, the nucleus of this group with 20-1 at Carson Middle School in basketball, with the only loss coming to a California team late in the game.

The nucleus of this group also made up much of the Carson Wildcats which was the state’s No. 1 ranked USSSA baseball team and No. 3 ranked in the West this past summer. In 2006, many of these athletes played for the Carson Valley Cougars baseball team, which was ranked second in the nation.

Among those who have been outstanding in several sports has been Tim Baylor, who also played for the Wildcats; Connor Beattie, who for Carson Middle School took first in the 200 meters and the 4×100 relay in the Tah-Neva Track Championships, third in zone wrestling and played for the Wildcats; Patrick Craugh, who finished first in zone and second in the state in wrestling; Nick Garcia, wo took second in the state in wrestling for Carson Middle School and third in the state for the Carson Bulldogs.

Gabriel Pongasi, who was first in the 4×100 relay, second in the triple jump and third in the 75 hurdles at the Tah-Neva event, second in zone in wrestling and also played for the Wildcats; Chance Quilling, who was second for Eagle Valley Middle School in the 75 hurdles and played for the Wildcats and Cougars; and Colby Blueberg, who also played for the Wildcats and Cougars.

The two athletes on the team who have been the biggest achievers are also close friends in Austin Pacheco and Dylan Sawyers. Along with developing a friendship over the years, the two say the entire group of athletes is close.

Pacheco played on the 20-1 basketball team, the Wildcats and the Cougars and took first in the 100, 4×100 and the discus at the Tah-Neva event. Sawyers also played for the 20-1 basketball team, the Wildcats and Cougars and took first in the Tah-Neva event in the 75 hurdles, long jump triple jump and 4×100 relay at the Tah-Neva event.

Along with their accomplishments in athletics, the group’s accomplishments in academics is just as impressive. The Midgets football team has a cumulative grade point average above 3.0, with several of the players maintaining a 4.0.

“These kids what they’ve accomplished in the last five years on the football field, the baseball field, track, wrestling and most importantly in the classroom is phenomenal,” coach Pacheco said. “The successes on the field and in the classroom has just been tremendous for these guys.”

The obvious question is will this group be able to continue its success at Carson High? While nothing’s guaranteed, again, coach Pacheco, is betting on this group to continue its success.

“The amount of athletes that are on this team I foresee Carson sports being a tough opponent,” Pacheco said.