Offense or defense, either way, Zach Kinder was a front and center performer for the Douglas High School football team this season.
And not surprisingly, Kinder capped off his three-year varsity career when he received first-team recognition as an offensive tackle and defensive tackle on the all-Sierra League list. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior deserves any honors that come his way, according to coach Ernie Monfiletto.
“I think he’s as good as anybody in the league,” Monfiletto said. “I think he was a real foundation in our program, whether it was him being one of our captains, a striker or being part of our senior council.”
As a junior in 2012, Kinder was a first-team all-league selection at defensive tackle and second-team at offensive center. He played three different positions — guard, center and tackle — during his three varsity seasons.
“He was an important part of that offensive line in a pivotal position,” Monfiletto said. “He has understood how things work for three years on our varsity.”
Three other players received first-team all-league honors — Andrew Jensen at offensive guard, Kyle Adams at linebacker and punter Rocky Hanson — for a Douglas team that compiled a 2-8 overall record (1-3 league) and qualified for the playoffs.
Jensen played right guard on offense, providing one-half of a highly effective combo in the last three games after Kinder was moved from left tackle to the right side. Douglas rushed for 285 yards against the league champion Carson Senators. Another big performance came on Sept. 27 when Nick Abreu rushed for 214 yards in a 15-14 homecoming loss against Spanish Springs (Abreu received second-team all-league recognition at running back).
“Andrew is a young man who came a long way from beginning to end,” Monfiletto said of Jensen, a junior. “He was obviously a strong part of our offensive and defensive lines.
In addition to his selection as a first-team offensive lineman, Jensen was also named second-team defensive tackle (he rotated between tackle and end on defense). The 6-1, 240-pound Jensen showed resolve by playing through an injury for more than half the season.
“As it turns out, he broke his thumb the fourth week of the season and we didn’t know it until after the season,” Monfiletto said of Jensen. “He’s got some real athletic ability. We expect him to be one of our leaders next year.”
Adams set a school single-season record with seven blocked PAT/field goal attempts. Douglas had nine blocked kicks during the season overall, with Jensen and Kinder accounting for the other two.
“He had a fantastic year,” Monfiletto said of Adams. “He did everything he was told with every bit of energy he had. Kyle is an aggressive kid, and the thing is, I’m more proud of the young man he is turning into than anything else. He’s just an all-around good player and good teammate.”
So what was the secret to those seven blocked kicks?
“That’s a secret,” Monfiletto said, smiling. “I can say he figured it out and made it happen.”
The Tigers benefited from a strong kicking game this fall between Hanson, who handled the punting chores, and Tay Simms as the kicker.
“Rocky was thrown into the fire at the beginning of the year and he made some great kicks for us,” Monfiletto said of Hanson, a junior. “If you look at both the Manogue and Carson games, his punts put us in field position that gave us a chance to win those games.”
“We’re hoping Rocky’s contributions are expanded next year. He’s a good athlete and I think he has a promising future with us.”
Simms helped put Douglas in position to beat Carson by kicking a pair of field goals, including a career-long 38-yarder as time expired at halftime. Unfortunately for the senior, he did not attract enough votes to garner all-league recognition.
“All-league is an honor, but it doesn’t always reflect the way the kids played,” Monfiletto said. “I don’t think you’re ever 100 percent satisfied, and there were kids who aren’t on that list who were certainly worthy of recognition.”
Eight Douglas players were included on the all-league second-team: Abreu, running back; Bailey Vidaurri, return specialist; Wyatt Eichhorst, defensive end; Kaleb Foster and Cale Kynett, linebacker; plus Garret Rice and Vidaurri at defensive back positions.
Quarterback Wes Hundley, wide receivers A.J. Pfaffenberger and Taylor Souza and offensive center Zachary Moehle-Boston also received honorable mention all-league recognition.
Vidaurri returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, including a state record-tying 99-yard dash during a regular season game against Reed on Douglas’ Hall of Fame Night.
The Tigers had one special achievement when they extended the program’s streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 13 seasons — 17 in 18 years.
“I’m proud of these kids,” Monfiletto said. “I had some of the best kids. They continued to build on the foundation we have in place so we could move forward. Now, it’s going to be a real challenge for those underclassmen to produce next year and we’re excited about that opportunity.”
Notes: Douglas had no representatives on the all-Northern Region team, which was also announced on Saturday after completion of the Reed-Bishop Gorman Division I state championship game in Las Vegas (Gorman won, 48-14). All-region and all-league honors were determined by a vote of coaches. ... Carson High coach Roman, a Douglas High graduate, was named the Sierra League and Northern Region Division I Coach of the Year. Roman guided the Senators to the school’s fourth championship in the past five years and a 9-3 record this past season.