The Sparks Sertoma Club has raised loads of funds for local charities over the years and it also gives northern Nevada’s high school football players a chance to show off their skills one last time on the biggest stage many of these players will ever play.
The Sertoma Classic brings together 90 of the best prep football stars from the 4A, 3A and 2A, who graduated earlier this month.
However, the Rail City gridiron fans hoping to see all Sparks schools donning the same uniform Friday night at Mackay Stadium will have to wait at least another year.
Six Reed players will be playing for the Blue team, while seven Spanish Springs and three Sparks players will be on the opposing Silver team.
Other than Douglas, which also had six players selected for the Blue team, the Raiders will have the most representatives on their squad. Reed grads Zach Comphel, Tony Tremaine, John VonSchimmelmann, Alvin Santiago, Galen Schmidt and Lennox Pierce were all chosen for the Sertoma Classic.
While Spanish Springs failed to reach the playoffs during the high school football season, the Cougars clearly had a strong senior core. Spanish Springs and Hug (also on the Silver team) are the only schools that received seven selections.
Cougars Casey Frost, Jared O’Mealy, JJ Jaramillo, Richie Hernandez, Chris White, Drew Shimkowski and Chris Dall will join Ian Butler, Prince Hall and Andre City from Sparks High.
There’s so much for players to benefit from by partaking in the Sertoma Classic. It’s the only time they get to join forces with guys they’ve gone head to head against for years. Plus, the game can even provide athletes from rural schools the exposure needed in order to impress a college coach.
But the icing on the cake is certainly playing under the lights of the University of Nevada’s Mackay Stadium – something most of these players don’t come close to ever achieving.
“It’s once in a lifetime because only a few people get to play in college because you have to be pretty good to play in college,” Spanish Springs’ Dall said. “Playing in a college stadium at night is going to be fun.”
There have been plenty of close games in the 26-year history of the Sertoma Classic, but many of the participants’ emotions don’t hang on whether they win or lose. It’s about putting on the pads one last time with the friends they’ve grown up playing football.
“I’m really excited. I thought my last game would be during the season, but now I have another game,” Hernandez, the Cougars’ defensive back said. “It’s fun sharing the field with stars you’ve seen during the year.”
Dall shared his sentiments.
“It’s about coming together and playing your last game with people you’ll probably never play with again,” Dall said.
The Classic means something else to other players though.
As a 3A school, Sparks players always have something to prove when they go up against 4A stars, who tend to get more attention during the fall season.
But no matter what size school a player went to, being selected to the all-star game means the same thing.
“It’s a pretty big honor because a lot of the guys on the team joke around and say I suck, but they don’t get to play and I do,” Sparks’ Butler said. “It’s good. I like it.”
The 27th annual Sertoma Classic kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday night and the teams will be led by a pair of 3A coaches, Fernley’s Jeff Knutson (Silver) and Dayton’s Rick Walker (Blue). Tickets cost $10 and children 5 and under are free. All proceeds are donated back to local charities.