Truckee, North Tahoe players selected for Sertoma Football Classic
Five senior players between the North Tahoe and Truckee high football teams have been selected to represent their schools in the 26th annual Sertoma Football Classic on June 15.
The game, which marks the final opportunity for the athletes to step on a football field during their high school careers, will showcase the top 100 senior players from 2A, 3A and 4A programs from Northern Nevada.
Omar Gonzalez, a 5-foot-10-inch, 215-pound defensive tackle and three-year varsity starter, is the lone representative from North Tahoe.
“He was one of our anchor players and our MVP on defense,” said Scott Everist, head coach of the Lakers. “He’s a pretty tough kid. He was the only one selected from North Tahoe, so we’re real proud of him.”
Fittingly ” despite this past season being the first in which the Wolverines and Lakers competed in different leagues ” Gonzalez will line up opposite Truckee’s four all-stars, suiting up for Team Blue led by Sparks head coach Rob Kittrell.
Truckee’s Drew Stewart, Brian Cordell, Cory Hoehn and Izzy Serna will play for the Silver squad headed by Galena coach Steve Struzyk, who, like Kittrell, hand selected each player on his squad.
For Stewart, a 6-foot, 190-pound fullback, the honor means a chance to run the ball and block for teammates one last time on healthy ankles. Such was rarely the case during his senior season, when multiple injuries sidelined him several games and otherwise restricted him from playing at full strength.
Despite his injuries, Stewart rushed for 314 yards and six touchdowns on 63 carries.
“We were expecting big, big things from Drew (entering the season),” said Bob Shaffer, Truckee’s head coach. “He was our difference-maker. Unfortunately, he had nagging injuries the entire season.”
The opposite was true his junior year, when Stewart led the team in carries (114) while rushing for 785 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns. His effort was rewarded with second team all-league and all-state honors.
“Drew is a very physical runner,” Shaffer said. “He has great acceleration and ability to change direction quickly. He was one of our leaders.”
With Stewart struggling to remain healthy from week to week, Cordell, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound defensive standout, stepped up and served as one of the leaders of the youthful squad.
“When Drew got hurt it seemed like Brian took on the role as team leader,” Shaffer said. … “He really came on this year for us.”
Shaffer praised Cordell’s ability to adapt when moved from linebacker to defensive end this past season. He cited his tenacity and determination as strengths.
“He never gave up on a play, and that helped him an awful lot on pass rushing,” the coach said.
Anchoring the team on the other side of the line was Hoehn, Truckee’s big man at 6-4, 270 pounds.
“I think he is one of the more athletic individuals for a big guy,” Shaffer said. “He has great feet for a big guy.”
It was that deft footwork coupled with his size and strength that led Shaffer to place Hoehn at left tackle his junior year to protect right-handed quarterback Robert Jones from blind-side hits. When B.J. Carter, a lefty, took over the reigns this past season, Shaffer moved Hoehn to right tackle for the same reason.
“He was our best pass protector,” Shaffer said. “He did a good job blocking down field, but his ability to cover anyone blitzing was outstanding. They just could not get by him.
“He did a great job, and I think he’ll do a great job at the next level,” he continued, adding that Hoehn ” who earned first team all-league and second team all-state honors his senior year and made all league honorable mention his junior year ” plans to play at Sierra College in the fall.
Serna was Truckee’s utility player of sorts, and a darn good one, his coach said.
At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Serna excelled playing tight end ” his main position ” as well as center, defensive tackle, guard and punter. He also handled kickoffs for the Wolverines.
“He’s quite a multitalented athlete,” Shaffer said. “When you tell him something, he gets it. He’s able to pick up stuff and retain it, and that allows him to play multiple positions.
“I think he really enjoyed playing tight end, but when they start practicing (for the Sertoma Football Classic) they’re going to realize how talented he is.”
North Tahoe, Spring Creek, Fernley, Sparks, Incline, South Tahoe, McQueen, Hug, Douglas, Reed, Elko, Manogue, West Wendover, Pahrump Valley
Truckee, Dayton, Yerington, Galena, North Valleys, Reno, Fallon, Carson, Damonte Ranch, Spanish Springs, Battle Mountain, Whittell, Mineral County, Pershing County
The Sertoma Football Classic will be played at Mackay Stadium on the campus of University of Nevada, Reno on June 15. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Last year, both Truckee and North Tahoe played for the Blue squad, which defeated Silver 24-0. Truckee was represented by Ben Tonon, John Hooper, Jorge Vasquez, Brandon Peterson, Scott Decker and Alfredo Oropeza. Eli Osborn was the representative from North Tahoe.
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