Success in the face of adversity
The ‘tweener season didn’t turn out so bad after all ” considering.
In an awkward year of transition between the Northern 3A and 2A, the currently independent North Tahoe High football team salvaged what began as a rocky season with flashes of promise and some stingy protection of its home turf.
“The last couple wins have been nice. It’s kind of gotten us back on our feet,” said North Tahoe head coach Scott Everist, whose team finished a perfect 3-0 in games played on Dollar Hill. “The kids have responded well. They’ve been improving every week.”
The Lakers indeed have grown considerably ” in competence and confidence ” since the season opener in Las Vegas on Aug. 25, which resulted in a 38-6 loss to Southern 3A power Faith Lutheran.
After dropping its first five contests on the road against quality programs, the undermanned North Tahoe squad (with around 25 players) battled its way into the win column with a 21-0 romp over visiting Whittell on Sept. 30. From there the Lakers proceeded to win two of their next three, losing 26-14 at Yerington before defeating Mineral County, 41-12, and Silver Stage, 28-0, at North Tahoe.
With back-to-back routs under their belt, the Lakers’ received a boost in team morale entering the final week of the season.
“It’s better,” Everist said of the Lakers’ confidence level. “Winning cures a lot of things. It definitely helps to have a few ‘Ws’.”
Especially on the final day of the season, a special day to bid farewell to the seven seniors: Ernesto Mendoza; Brandon Alves; Colin Blount; Omar Gonzales; Ari Narlock; Sam Rossi; and Spencer Marple.
“Being independent this year, we know that our season is over on Saturday, so we’re just trying to keep the kids focused,” Everist said this week as his team prepared to host Independence. “We’re undefeated at home, and we’re gonna try to finish that way.”
In a sudden change of events, North Tahoe got its win without even having suiting up.
Everist received a call late Wednesday night informing him that Independence would be forfeiting Saturday’s game because of an incident that created a lockdown on its campus. Desperately trying to schedule a game in its place, Everist said he scrambled around most of the day Thursday in search of an opponent. But with the last-minute notice, his effort went for naught.
So just like that, North Tahoe’s season officially ended. Including the forfeit, the Lakers’ final record stands at 4-6.
“It’s a letdown,” Everist said. “You’d rather play the game. Even if you lose, at least the kids get to play. It counts as a win but it’s not how you want to get it, that’s for sure.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Everist had yet to inform all of his players about the cancellation.
“I’m sure it will be pretty rough on most of them, especially the seniors.”
The coach said there will be a rally on campus Tuesday to say good-bye to the seniors.
Despite playing a difficult schedule ” six road games versus four at home, which turned out to only be three ” with no chance for a playoff run, the Lakers’ season was far from a waste.
“It’s been a good season to get a look at other 2A programs we’re gonna play,” Everist said. “Maybe we’ll do some damage next year.”
The North Tahoe coaching staff also got the chance to witness their team’s transformation during a season of adversity.
“To see the improvement and how far they’ve come is a big deal for us, and we’re happy,” Everist said.
While the coach has not had the chance to sit down and add up his team’s stats on the season, he does know of one impressive total from his primary running back, Enesto Mendoza. In the past five games, the senior rushed for 669 yards on 68 carries, just under a 10-yard average.