Last year’s squad was senior heavy. This year’s group is not.
Isaiah Campbell, Paul Padua and Laurence Sampang are the only seniors on the roster.
With the lack of seniors, Sparks coach Dan Schreiber holds eight juniors on the varsity roster (no freshman or sophomores). And with the corresponding lack in experience, Schreiber’s goals for the 2013-14 Railroaders are conservative, for now.
“We just want to play one game at a time and get better each time on the court,” Schreiber said. “Each coach has high expectations, just like we do.”
Sparks’ lack of experience does not translate to a lack of talent, however.
Campbell will be one of the regulars in the headlines for the Railroaders. The senior scored 16 points in Sparks’ season-opening, 57-40, loss to North Valleys Saturday.
“Isaiah Campbell is a pretty solid player all around so he will be one of our key kids,” Schreiber said.
The Railroaders will also lean on junior Adrian Garcia. Garcia moved up to varsity midway through his sophomore season and narrowly missed a double-double in the loss to North Valleys scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Schreiber said Garcia worked hard in the offseason and he is “looking for big things” from his junior.
And on the nights Sparks is not the most talented team on the floor, the Railroaders will rely on grit.
“We are going to be the typical team that outworks opponents,” Schreiber said. “That’s what we are known for.”
This year, the Railroaders lack size down low so Sparks will look to push the fast break as often as possible. Fast-break opportunities could help mask the Railroaders’ inexperience until the varsity newbies are no longer ‘new.’
“We are going to try to keep the tempo up,” Schreiber said. “We’re a little short so we’ve talked about gaining possession then pushing.”
The up-tempo style is a changeup from last year as Schreiber is not stranger to changing his team’s style.
“I’m guilty of changing it (playing style) every year just based on the talents we have,” Schreiber said. “We can’t do the same thing every year. It just doesn’t work that way. I change it every year depending on the kids we have.”
Schreiber said Elko is the “team to beat” in the Div. I-A North this season and has already talked to his team about playoff positioning.
Elko claimed the No. 1 seed in the North last season before losing in the state semifinals.
“We have talked about trying to avoid them to the end (North title game),” Schreiber said. “They (Elko) are that good.”
But before Sparks can look forward to what it hopes will be a playoff push, Sparks’ coach must fine tune his young group.
Said Schreiber, “We’re going to be good, but have to expedite the talent.”