Sparks is looking to continue its dominance and reach the state title game for the fourth consecutive year while Reed is trying to avoid another late-season falling out that kept it out of the playoffs. And Spanish Springs will attempt to reach the State Tournament one year after losing in the North Region final.
After a brief conversation with coach Frank Avilla, it's no mystery why Sparks has advanced to the state title game the last three years, winning the title in 2011. Even with the success, Avilla says he isn't concerned about the wins and losses, despite his dazzling 111-14 record over the past five seasons and a 27-2 mark last season.
"As a coach, I really don't worry about winning and losing, that takes care of itself," Avilla said. "Watching them, my main thing is making sure they complete school … We're teaching life over here."
The humble coach could not understate how blessed he feels with the talent pool he is given yearly. And he is graced with another deep group in 2013.
Senior forward Ruben Pachecho and senor midfielder Juan Hernandez are returning first teamers. Junior forward Oscar Gomez was a second team selection. Junior goalie Renaldo Hernandez and junior sweeper Cesar Arroyo were named honorable mention.
"I'm very proud of the young men," Avilla said. "I'm very blessed with what I have over here."
Amongst a team with such depth, Avilla gave high praise of incoming freshman, Jesus Partida. His brother, Kevin, a first team selection last season, was Avilla's first NCAA DI signee. Kevin plays at UNLV.
"His younger brother looks even better than he did as a freshman," Avilla said.
With the depth and past success, comes pressure to continue winning. The 12th-year coach knows it.
"Everybody expects us to be there, so you have a lot of pressure on you. But I feel this group will be able to do it."
The Railroaders were scheduled to play in the Howell Memorial Tournament this weekend which has been cancelled so the team must now wait until next Thursday to open its season at Incline.
"I think we're ready to go," Avilla said. "We're excited."
On the outside of the playoffs looking in, the Raiders held a lead in each of their final four games in 2012 before letting those leads, and a playoff berth, slip away. Coach Joel Martinez doesn't see that happening again this season.
"I think we are going to surprise a lot of teams this year," Martinez said.
Martinez's squad finished 6-9-2, 2-2-5 in league last year.
Reed will undoubtedly rely on youth after losing 14 seniors last year, one of the 14 being 2012 Northern League MVP goalie, Josh Reyes. Martinez said the youth on the roster shouldn't fool anyone into thinking the youth translates to inexperience, however.
"We have a lot of kids that have played on club teams all the way up through high school, so I think we have a younger team but I think we have more experience and more comfort with the positions they are playing," Martinez said.
Among the young 2013 group, the Raiders are left with four returning starters who will be given the responsibility to show the newcomers the varsity ropes.
Like all coaches of outdoor sports in the region, Martinez says the smoke and poor air quality has caused problems scheduling practice indoors but he knows everyone is dealing with it so it doesn't give his team a particular advantage or disadvantage.
"We're working in a confined space and it's making us quicker as a team. Hopefully, we show that on the pitch come gameday," Martinez said. "I think our boys are ready."
Reed was scheduled to open its season in the Howell Memorial Tournament at Galena Friday but with smoke canceling this weekend's games, the team's season-opener will be Wednesday at Galena.
The 2013 season cannot start soon enough for coach Rob Moreland and his Cougars. One year after falling in the regional final to Carson on penalty kicks, Spanish Springs returns a deep pool of talent that has laid the foundation for another playoff run.
The Purple and Gold finished 11-6-2 last season.
"We know that we need to go back to the final and redeem ourselves," Moreland said.
Unlike cross-town rival, Reed, which will rely on youth, the Spanish Springs will lean on its experience in 2013. Spanish Springs graduated three seniors last year and has 15 on its roster, nine of which are varsity returners.
Among the senior returners, are first-team selections goalie Omar Trujillo, defender Jonathon Garcia, who is moving to midfield this season, and midfielder Manny Medina. Second-team selections, midfielder Ricardo Camacho and forward Edwin Medina (no relation to Manny) round out the list of returning first- and second-team returners.
Medina (Manny) and Garcia, freshman at the time, were both on the varsity roster when SSHS won the regional crown in 2010.
"They know what it takes. It doesn't happen every year," Moreland said.
Moreland admitted that the smoke-induced indoor practices have delayed his team's preparation for the season.
"It hasn't gone very well," Moreland said.
But the coach realizes all the teams in the area are "in the same boat." In spite of the rocky preseason, Moreland believes the depth on his bench will create a conditioning advantage for his group.
Spanish Springs' conditioning and depth is scheduled for its first test Wednesday at Dayton.
"I'm chomping at the bit to get it going," Moreland said. "Let's play.