Laker football set for 2A challenge | SierraSun.com

Laker football set for 2A challenge

Alex Close
Sierra Sun

Alex Close/Sierra SunJunior lineman James Laughlin blocks for senior fullback Joe Erman during a scrimmage at Truckee on Friday. The Lakers will play for the first season in the Northern 2A division.

The North Tahoe High football team is starting this season as it has most seasons in recent past: The Lakers are strong and have a good core of key returning players, but there are just not quite enough boys on the team.

“We’re thin,” head coach Scott Everist said Friday after a successful scrimmage at Truckee High, where the Lakers took snaps against Quincy, Lassen and Truckee.

But a small roster is something Everist is used to dealing with.

The head coach said that he told his players on the bus ride from Dollar Hill to Truckee’s Surprise Stadium that he’s always nervous before the first snap of the season. Even after preseason and daily doubles and all the time in the weight room, he still never knows how his players will respond.

But this year they were up to the challenge. His boys came out and performed well in the scrimmage, even against the likes of Quincy, which boasted plenty of size and tested the Lakers.

When it comes to size, the 26-man roster Everist is carrying doesn’t seem like the end of the world. But it does when those 26 players make up the entire Lakers program.

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“One of the things that still hurts us is not having JV,” Everist said.

With no junior varsity squad, Everist is carrying a number of younger players who aren’t ready for varsity competition, and those younger players don’t get to take as many snaps as they would if he had a full JV roster.

Because of that, once substitutions are made, holes can open up.

“We’ve gotta get the freshman up and running plays a little better,” captain and senior fullback Joe Erman said after the scrimmage.

While the Lakers will be competing for the first time this year in the Northern 2A division ” this after a season playing under independent status ” Everist acknowledged that dropping down a division from 3A in no way ensures success.

“2A is still tough,” Everist said.

With schools like Battle Mountain, Yerington and Lovelock in the Northern 2A, North Tahoe is not necessarily on easy street, the coach said.

Everist also acknowledged the fact that most of the consistently top-tier 2A schools have JV programs, and most that remain at the lower end of the division do not.

But the Lakers’ optimism doesn’t stop with Erman running the ball. While the senior is a force to be reckoned with, Everist has more than just one weapon in his arsenal.

Senior quarterback Ryan Blount is another. Blount took the majority of the snaps last season and took them well.

And as far as running goes, senior Brent Marple was hard to stop and hard to get by on defense as a sophomore and junior. The senior has put on some pounds since last season and should make plays on both sides of the ball this year.

On the line, Dusty Peters will anchor the team at center, and monster guard James Laughlin will wreck shop on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot-4, 287-pound junior is what Everist calls “a load.”

North Tahoe opens its season Saturday, Sept. 1 at home against Lovelock.

If the Lakers can start the season off the same way they ended the last one, it’ll be all smiles from the boys in blue.

The Lakers wound out their 2006 season with a perfect home record, going 3-0 on Dollar Hill. This year, the Lakers’ first four contests are at home.

Between the memory of those final games, a solid core of motivated seniors and a new start in a new division, the Lakers are optimistic and ready to rock.

“I feel like we’re looking at a pretty good season,” Erman said.

Sept. 1 vs. Lovelock 1 p.m.

Sept. 8 vs. Incline TBA

Sept. 15 vs. Rite of Passage 1 p.m.

Sept. 22 vs. Battle Mountain 1 p.m.

Sept. 29 at Whittell 1 p.m.

Oct. 6 vs. Yerington 1 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Mineral County 7 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Silver Stage 1 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Independence 1:30 p.m.