New head coach leads North Tahoe’s Lakers into football season opener
After graduating a senior class that was largely responsible for the return of football at North Tahoe High School, a new group of athletes have taken to the gridiron with a new coach at the helm as the Lakers prepare for the 2019 campaign.
First-year Coach Brian Fink has taken over sideline duties at the school, and will lead a relatively young core of players into battle this Saturday for the team’s season opener.
“I really want to develop a sense of camaraderie and just make North Tahoe football more than just a football team — make it a family,” said Fink, who served on the team’s staff during the past few seasons. “And so with that, everybody has their roles and everybody has the same expectations.”
After four seasons of being led by one of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s most prolific quarterbacks, Thomas Mercogliano, the Lakers will turn to junior Ben Trujillo to lead the offense.
“It’s going to be difficult for me, I’ve never been quarterback before,” said Trujillo, who also plays linebacker and was a fullback last year. “It’s going to be something new, but our running core is still pretty solid, so I think we can make it work pretty well. We just have to stay focused.”
The team will likely be run heavy this season, and will make use of Trujillo with the option. The Lakers will also return their top receiver from last year, senior Cooper Kohnen.
“We’re going to be more run, which I think is good, because we have a lot of good running backs,” said Trujillo.
The team’s backfield will feature junior Tyler Frankenberg, sophomore Enrique Harrizon, Irving Perez, and senior Jaxon Pokorny.
“I’m trying to establish the same kind of intensity that (last year’s) senior class had,” said Pokorny on the season. “I want to keep everybody on it.”
Senior Guthrie Goss will lead the team up front, playing both offensive and defensive lines.
“We lost a lot of seniors last year, but we also gained a lot of freshmen, so there’s a lot of pressure this year on the younger guys to step up,” said Goss. “We have plenty of guys who have played before and a lot of the younger guys are stepping up, getting stronger, getting better. Most of it is just communication anyways, we don’t need to have the strongest, the biggest, the best guys, we just need to have one cohesive unit on the line. That’s what makes a good line.”
Defensively, the Lakers will play a 4-3 this season, whereas last year the team switched defenses week to week based on their opponent.
“This year I want to focus on just getting one defense and getting it down really well,” said Fink. “The 4-3 is one that’s easy to learn, but it gives you a lot of versatility with the blitzes and packages that you can throw out of it.”
North Tahoe will open the season on Saturday, Aug. 24, at California School for the Deaf in Fremont.
The Lakers were defeated 44-23 by the Eagles last year, largely due to the play of running back Calel Aramboles. As a junior in last season’s game, the 233-pound Aramboles bulldozed his way to 265 yards and three touchdowns.
Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.