North Tahoe football season preview: Lakers looking to ‘thrive’ in 2016 | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe football season preview: Lakers looking to ‘thrive’ in 2016

Senior tight end Brett Hurt, who led North Tahoe in receiving last year with 21 catches for 543 yards, is one of many starters returning to the Lakers this season.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — All offseason long, North Tahoe football coach Scott Everist has been challenging his players to change their mindset heading into 2016.

"We've been talking to the kids about, it's not about trying to survive games like it's been in the past," said Everist, whose team is coming off an 0-9 campaign last season. "Now, we want to thrive."

With a crop of returning starters back in the fold, the Lakers are poised to right the ship this season.

"There's a good mix of kids with experience from last year that started for us," Everist said. "A solid core on both offense and defense. We're definitely pretty excited about that."

Shouldering the bulk of the Lakers' experience is their 10-man sophomore class, led by starting quarterback Thomas Mercogliano.

Operating in a pro-style offense, the dual-threat QB had a promising freshman campaign, passing for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns with a 45-percent completion rate.

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On the ground, Mercogliano was even more impressive, juking to a team-high 1,210 rushing yards on just 81 carries — a staggering 14.9 yards a pop — with a pair of TDs.

His primary targets will be sophomore wide out Eli Snyder and senior tight end Brett Hurt, a duo that combined for 40 receptions and 960 yards in 2015.

In the backfield, senior tailback Nathan Lutz, who returns 311 yards and two scores, will help carry the load.

"We got some reason to spread out the ball," Eversit said. "We try to move the ball around a little bit as best as we can."

On the offensive and defensive lines, North Tahoe will look to Ethan Everist, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound sophomore, and Martin Barrera, a 5-9, 320-pound senior, to anchor the Lakers in the trenches.

"We got some guys that can push other people around — we got some size," Coach Everist said. "Our strong-suit right now is our skill positions; hopefully they stay healthy and we can put the blocking together."

With 23 players on the roster, though, Everist, is simply happy to have enough players to field a team — the 13-year coach is just two years removed from being forced to scrap the 2014 season due to a lack of players.

In fact, Everist said, after this season, the Lakers — currently an independent 8-man team — will be rejoining the Northern 2A Conference as an 11-man squad in 2017.

Until then, however, the Lakers are focused on thriving this fall.

"We just need to try to put together a few wins and try to build on that success," Everist said. "The challenge is getting the kids to believe that we can do it."

North Tahoe opens its season on the road at 7 p.m. Friday for an 11-man showdown with local rival Incline High School.

2016 North Tahoe Football Schedule

Aug. 26 at Incline, 7 p.m.

Sept. 3 at Smith Valley, noon

Sept. 10 at Owyhee, noon

Sept. 17 vs. Lone Pine, 1 p.m.

Sept. 24 vs. Eureka, 1 p.m.

Oct. 1 vs. Wells, 1 p.m.

Oct. 8 at McDermitt, noon

Oct. 14 at Yerington JV, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 22 vs. Silver Stage, 1 p.m.

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