There’s only one way to go for the South Tahoe football team.
After managing only one win last season due in part to losing their starting quarterback in the first game, the Vikings come this year recharged and on a mission.
“We didn’t do very well at all,” sixth-year coach Kevin Hennessee said about 2013. “We lost our quarterback in the second quarter of the first game. We didn’t have a backup. By the time we got one, it was too late. We have more talent this year than last year as a group.”
Working with more talent than the 2013 team, Hennessee is excited for his team to hit the gridiron today when it opens with El Dorado.
South Tahoe not only returns Corey McCarthy, who suffered a broken collarbone in last year’s opener, but also junior Mason Cain comes in as the backup. Hennessee said both quarterbacks are doing well in practice, creating a friendly battle for reins to the offense.
“Those two are battling it out,” he said. “Both have a certain skill set. Both throw the ball pretty well. Corey’s more of a runner.”
McCarthy and Cain will have Brandon Erickson, Kirby David and Zach Shearer for targets.
“They’re good. They had a great offseason,” Hennessee said about the receivers. “All three of them did well in the scrimmage. They all did good things. Kirby’s one of the fastest kids on the team. Stone gets open and finds a way to catch the ball.”
Running out of a spread this year, South Tahoe will complement the passing game with senior Dylan Gardner, who was second on the team last season with 76 rushes for 315 yards and four touchdowns, which were the best on the team. Juniors Quinton Ritter and Keelin Aiko and sophomore Jacob Bernal will also get reps on the ground.
‘They all do some good things,” Hennessee said. “Quinton and Dylan are the fastest kids. Keelin’s a bigger body when he runs the ball.”
Fielding only 25 players on varsity, most of the players on offense will headline the defense, including Gardney, Kirby and Ritter.
“We run multiple sets with one to two safeties,” Hennessee said. “We’ve got some young guys who need to step up and play for us this year. I’m excited about the defense.”
Despite the low number, Henesse said his team has accepted the challenge and was pleased with how the team did last weekend in scrimmages against the California schools.
“It would be nice if we had more kids to choose from but we don’t,” he said. “It’s something we have to live with. We don’t complain about it. We just deal with it. It’s just one of those deals. When you don’t have a lot of kids at your school, you make it work.”
After the opener against El Dorado, South Tahoe gets to business with the Northern Division I-A, which features several opponents with good track records. Hennessee figures Fallon, Elko, Spring Creek and Lowry to be in the mix for the best team.
“The goals are always to make the playoffs and to have success,” Hennessee said. “We play in a super tough league. Once you start league, it’s nine league games (in a row). Everyone’s going to give you a battle.”
Plus it helps having some of the league’s best coming up to the lake this year. Fallon, Fernley and Truckee will visit this fall.
“We have a great fan base,” Hennessee said. “We have a new principal this year and he’s encouraging more to be involved. We get a great crowd for home games.”