Four Tigers earn Sertoma berths
For many of the players involved, the 19th annual Sertoma Classic All-Star football game will be their final chance to put on the pads.
For the four Douglas Tigers invited to play, the game will be the first step in the transition from high school football to college football.
Douglas seniors Joe Andrews, Kyle Baker, Brandon Griffith and Josh Wilcox were all key members of the Tigers squad that made the Northern 4A playoffs last fall. They’ll be teammates for the final time next Friday at Reno High. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Wilcox, who will pursue a playing career at Grossmont Junior College in San Diego, has attended several Sertoma games with his father, DHS defensive coordinator Steve Wilcox.
“The games are pretty intense,” the Tigers defensive back said. “I think it’s because some of the guys are going to play in college and they want their last high school game to be special. And the kids who aren’t going to play anymore, they play even harder because they know it’s probably their last chance to play.”
Baker plans to continue his football career at Sacramento City College. He’ll be moving in with his older brother Chris, who works construction in the Sacramento area and said he’s likely to play either fullback or outside linebacker in college.
“I feel good about it,” Baker said of his decision to go to Sacramento City College. “I’ve talked with the coaches and I think I have an opportunity to get some playing time (as a freshman).”
Baker said he also considered attending Sacramento State, but didn’t like the idea of red-shirting.
“I wanted to play right away,” he said.
And he wasn’t about to pass up a chance to play in the Sertoma game.
“I’ve been getting pumped up the last few days, ever since I got my pads back,” said Baker, who played fullback and linebacker for the Tigers. “I’ve been wearing the pads around the house.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to making a lot of new friends. I don’t think just because we played against each other that we’ll have any hard feelings. It’s not like you hold any grudges.
Baker paused, then added: “I’m just glad the Carson guys are on the other side.”
Like Baker, Wilcox said he was thrilled to get the Sertoma call.
“I was so excited,” Wilcox said. “I was stunned.
“I’ve been thinking about it since the season ended. It’s another opportunity to play. I just love to play.”
This spring has been full of good news for Andrews. In April, he learned he had been chosen to play in the Sertoma game. A few weeks later, University of Nevada, Reno football coaches asked him to walk on this fall.
“Ever since the season ended last year I’ve been thinking ‘When do I get to play football again?'” Andrews said. “I was praying and hoping I’d be selected to play in the Sertoma Classic. It was a dream come true.”
Andrews said UNR coaches told him last winter that there wouldn’t be room for him in the program this fall, but they said he could come out for the team the following spring.
Douglas head coach Mike Rippee relayed the news that the UNR coaches discovered they needed depth at defensive end and tight end and wanted Andrews to walk on in the fall.
“I might as well have done a back flip right there,” Andrews said. “I couldn’t believe it. I was pretty excited.”
Griffith, the starting quarterback at Douglas last year, will attend University of Southern Oregon in Ashland in the fall. He has received an academic scholarship that will cover almost all of his tuition bills and plans to walk on to the football team at quarterback.
Baker said playing in the Sertoma Classic will be a great way for the four Tigers to finish their high school careers. He added that he wished more of his teammates had been invited.
“I’m glad we got the opportunity to play, but I was a little disappointed some other guys, especially Kyle Wentz, didn’t get to go,” Baker said. “I thought Kyle was a shoe-in.”