North Tahoe football faces transition season | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe football faces transition season

Dave PriceSierra Sun

File photoSenior Ernesto Mendoza, a running back and defensive back for Lakers, carries the ball against Truckee last season.

Having battled the numbers game for three years now, North Tahoe High football coach Scott Everist is looking forward to a new and more favorable challenge against an independent schedule this fall.North Tahoe, which has ended its long-time affiliation with the Northern 3A conference, has a nine-game schedule lined up for what is expected to be a transition season toward Nevadas 2A division in 2007. Were finally going to be playing some schools our size, said Everist, who is entering his fourth season as North Tahoes head coach. Its going to be nice to line up against teams that have about the same number of players on the sideline that we do.North Tahoe opens on Aug. 25 with a game against Faith Lutheran in Las Vegas in what will be the first of six games that will be played away from home.One drawback to the independent schedule is that there will be no postseason to look forward to. Then again, the postseason wasnt exactly a favorable experience last year for the Lakers (2-8 overall, 2-4 conference), whose record was good enough for a top-six finish and a berth into the playoffs. Their reward was a first-round playoff game on the road against traditional rival Truckee. The outcome was a 55-0 loss at the hands of the eventual state champion Wolverines.The last two years, weve been good enough to make the playoffs, but weve ended up having to play our first game at Truckee both times, Everist said. Its tough when you have players end up in the hospital and this and that.Weve got some decent athletes, we just dont have enough of them, added Everist, who expects to greet between 25 and 30 players when practice opens on Thursday. Its tough when you have so many of your players going both ways.It was going to be a tough grind to try and continue at the 3A level. Top to bottom, the Northern 3A plays quality football. Just consider that in addition to winning its second straight 3A state title last year, Truckee also defeated Bay Area power Live Oak and lost to Colfax (an eventual league co-champion) in overtime.Truckee is still the favorite, but Spring Creek is always tough, Dayton has a great program, Fernley is on the rise and you never know about Lowry, Everist said. Those schools are all growing; our enrollment keeps getting smaller.He said North Tahoe expects to open with an enrollment that falls well below the cutoff number of 460 that separates Nevadas 3A and 2A classifications. If the schools enrollment remains unchanged, it will likely qualify for a move to 2A when the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association realignment plan is announced for the 2007-08 school year.Were expecting to open the doors with 412 students and I think were going to level out at 400, said Everist, who doubles as the schools athletic director. Everist is quick to point out that the switch from 3A schedule to 2A doesnt mean easy games. Lovelock, a team that lost to Lincoln County in the 2A state championship game last year, and Battle Mountain are traditional powers. Adding to the difficulty, the Lakers play five straight games away from home to start the season their home opener is Sept. 30 against Whittell.By no means, were not expecting to roll over anyone, he said. Battle Mountain and Lovelock will be very tough. Faith Lutheran will be tough, but it will be a good game for us. We hung in with them for a while last year. It was real close the first half, then they took off on us in the second half.Everist has seen North Tahoe football at its best, having played for the Lakers 2A state championship team as a junior in 1986. Now, hes striving to restore the programs winning tradition as a coach. Myself and our staff, were trying to get the kids out, he said. Its been tough, but were still looking ahead.

Aug. 25North Tahoe at Faith Lutheran, 7 p.m. (Las Vegas)Sept. 1North Tahoe at Lovelock, 7:30 p.m.Sept. 8North Tahoe at Incline, 6 p.m.Sept. 15North Tahoe at Mammoth (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.), 7 p.m.Sept. 23North Tahoe at Battle Mountain, 1:30 p.m.Sept. 30Whittell at North Tahoe, 1:30 p.m.Oct. 6North Tahoe at Yerington, 7:30 p.m.Oct. 14Hawthorne at North Tahoe, 2 p.m.Oct. 21Silver Stage at North Tahoe, 1 p.m.