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Local prep football programs avoid scheduling woes of a year ago
by Dan Eckles
Jul 01, 2008 | 1139 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Sparks High football coach Rob Kittrell (above) enjoyed watching his team’s offseason workout Tuesday night.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Sparks High football coach Rob Kittrell (above) enjoyed watching his team’s offseason workout Tuesday night.
Football scheduling in the high school ranks can be a tough task in northern Nevada, especially for smaller schools. That was indeed the case a year ago for all three local high schools.

The Rail City’s trio of programs all faced a shortage of games that they never overcame. The coaches at the Sparks schools were all pleased to announce this week that their schedules for the upcoming season has been put to rest with relative ease.

At the 3A level, Sparks, which was saddled with two bye weeks and just eight games in 2007, will play nine games this fall. Spanish Springs and Reed, both 4A schools, will each get 10 games in this season.

“We had the schedule finalized in February. It’s a really nice thing not to have to stress to find opponents,” Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said. “It’s nice to know we have that intact and can move forward.”

Reed coach Ernie Howren was not happy with having a bye week last season. He’s glad to have a full schedule this time around.

“I’ve said it many times. The opportunity to compete with our players is the reason we’re coaching,” Howren said. “I want to make sure we get 10 games in and make the season as long as possible.”

Last fall, the Sparks High gridders had two byes during a three-week stretch early in the season, and nobody in the Railroaders’ football program was happy with that. Veteran SHS coach Rob Kittrell and his squad will play nine games this fall and he’s ecstatic over the way his schedule came together.

“It’s one of the best schedules since we moved down to the 3A,” he said. “We play three of the 4A schools that, competition-wise, I think we’re right there with. It will give us a good test to see where we are at before going into league.”

One factor that helped Sparks was Yerington’s move back to 3A status. The Lyon County school had been allowed to play a 2A football-only slate in recent years but that privilige was nixed with the NIAA’s latest realignment.

Sparks will open the 2008 campaign at South Tahoe on Aug. 30. The Railroaders then host Fallon Sept. 5 before getting a bye week prior to their 3A North League opener at home against Dayton Sept. 19.

“I like having the bye before we open up league play against Dayton. That will be the perfect time to prepare as we’ll be young and inxperienced this coming season,” Kittrell said.

The SHS crew plays its third and final non-league game at home against Elko Sept. 26.

The Railroaders’ final five weeks of the regular season are comprised of league affairs: at Spring Creek (Oct. 3) against Lowry (Oct. 10), at Yerington (Oct. 17), at Fernley (Oct. 24) and against Truckee (Oct. 31).

Kittrell said he wasn’t upset about still having an open date. He noted that since it’s earlier in the year, it’s less of an issue.

“I wasn’t looking to fill it. If something would have fallen into our lap, we might have played it,” he said. “Where our bye lands, it’s OK. If you’re somebody who has a bye at the end of the year, it’s important to find that game to keep momentum. I wouldn’t like our bye later in the season.”

At Reed, Howren has always believed you practice to play. In 2004, when the NIAA approved the expansion of the prep schedule to allow for a 10th game, Reed was one of the first schools to capitalize on the switch. Reed has gone to the Sacramento area and to Las Vegas to complete its schedule in years past, so you can bet Howren was not pleased when nothing fell into place to fill in the bye last fall.

This season, Reed will host a Clark County school on its 10-game slate.

The Raiders open their ’08 schedule with a home game against Bishop Manogue Aug. 29.

Reed also has a home game in Week 2 as Canyon Springs of North Las Vegas comes to the Rail City for a Saturday afternoon game Sept. 6. The Raiders wrap up the non-league portion of their schedule with a road game at Carson (Sept. 12) and a home game against Douglas. (Sept. 19).

“I’ve always wanted to play the best teams in the non-league,” Howren said. “I feel like we could not have gotten a better draw there. All those schools will be athletic and physical.”

Due to a new plan implemented by the Silver State’s 4A coaches, each of Nevada’s three large-school regions has an extended season every third year. This is that year for the 4A North so Reed will open league play at home against McQueen (Sept. 26) and at Elko (Oct. 3) before getting an off week.

The RHS squad completes its schedule with four High Desert League games against Hug (Oct. 17), at Reno (Oct. 24), at Spanish Springs (Oct. 30) and against North Valleys (Nov. 7).

“I don’t have a problem with a bye in a 10-game season,” Howren said. “I think it’s fine. We play six games, then get a bye and play four more. It falls at a good spot.”

Spanish Springs will kick off the new season at Carson Aug. 29. The Cougars play two more northern Nevada teams — Wooster at home Sept. 5 and at Galena Sept. 12 — before hosting San Lorenzo Valley of the South Bay Area Sept. 19 to wrap up its non-conference clashes.

“I like the non-league schedule,” Hare said. “We had a real good game against Carson last year. We haven’t played Wooster in a while and I’m real excited about playing Galena.”

Spanish Springs follows with a four-week stretch of HDL tilts: at Reno (Sept. 26), against Hug (Oct. 3), against North Valleys (Oct. 10) and at Elko (Oct. 17).

The Cougars’ bye week then rears its head. While it falls late in the SSHS schedule, it’s not necessarily at a horrible time. The off week comes immediately before the Cougars’ league battle with cross-town rival Reed (Oct. 30). Spanish Springs finishes its regular season at McQueen on Nov. 7.

“I’m glad we have 10 games. When you practice as long as we do, you’re glad to get 10 games in,” Hare said.

While most prep football programs throughout Nevada are holding summer drill and conditioning programs, the first day of official practice is Aug. 14.

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