A new-look Coleville High football team will try to answer some questions Saturday when its season kicks off with a game at Smith Valley.
The Wolves have new faces at nearly every position in their 8-man lineup — and only 15 players overall — after losing a stellar crop of seniors who helped compile a 9-1 record, Northern Division IV championship and a trip to the state semifinals in 2013.
“We have lots of changes with the loss of such an outstanding group of seniors from last year’s team,” said coach Will Sandy, who is entering his 24th season as head coach at Coleville. “We have six players who are new to football, so we are beginning the season with no depth, but we hope to improve that situation as the season proceeds.”
The good news is that the Antelope Valley school — with an enrollment of about 60 students — returns some quality players as well as a rich tradition. After all, the Wolves have been 67-9 over the last seven seasons, with six of those seasons ending with appearances in the state semifinals or finals.
Two all-conference players lead the way: Joel Gomez (5-foot-10, 181 pounds), who earned first-team recognition as a punter for the second straight year and was a second-team pick at linebacker; and Ricky Gieser (5-10, 205), a first-team linebacker.
“Ricky and Joel Gomez worked very hard this summer,” Sandy said. “We will be relying heavily on both players, both on offense and defense.”
Gomez was the team’s third leading rusher last season with 173 yards and one touchdown to go with 10 receptions for 124 yards and two TDs.
As a 165-pound sophomore last season, Gieser caught 12 passes for 336 yards and six TDs from his tight end position and also started one game at quarterback. He will miss the first four games this season in order to meet school policy requirements. Gomez will play quarterback to start the season.
Ashton Mitchell (6-2, 190) returns as a second-team all-conference defensive end. Mitchell, who also plays tight end, is the only player on the team who returns at the same positions he played last year, according to Sandy.
Another plus is the return of senior lineman Josh Disbro (6-3, 255) after missing last season due to a torn ACL. He had 36 tackles, including three sacks and five forced fumbles as a sophomore in 2012.
Disbro, coupled with sophomore Slone McCann (6-0, 245), will give the Wolves more physical size than they had last season.
Coleville also has its first female player, Stephanie Sandoval (5-4, 130) to start the season. She is athletic enough to have led Coleville’s girls basketball team in scoring last season, plus her family has provided many football highlights for the Wolves — brother David Sandoval was a standout lineman and cousin Emmi Sandoval ranks as one of the school’s all-time leading receivers.