League Previews, Season Predictions
In this article I will be providing the links of my team previews of the teams competing in the 5A-II, 5A-III and 3A in Northern Nevada. This is part one of a two-part preview, with the 3A coming out on Friday. If a team preview has not yet been accomplished, I will update this article once they are live. I will also provide my feelings on projected order of finish for each league. As always, these articles are intended to create conversation within our community and hopefully motivate teams that maybe think we are "sleeping" on them. Without further ado, here it goes...
Class 5A, Division-II Team Previews
Bishop Manogue Miners
Damonte Ranch Mustangs
Spanish Springs Cougars
Class 5A, Division-II Predicted Order of Finish
1. Bishop Manogue Miners: Until someone can prove that they can beat the Miners, it is the Miners crown to lose. I think that Bishop Manogue goes undefeated in League play this season and ultimately delivers Coach Howren his long awaited first State Championship. Bishop Manogue has a plethora of playmakers in every aspect of the game and if they put it all together, they can deliver the North a champion in the large class for the first time in 15 years.
2. Spanish Springs Cougars: The Cougars had arguably their best season as a program last year, falling just six points shy of a Regional Championship, but the juggernaut that is the Bishop Manogue Miners doesn't seem to be primed for an upset this season. The Springs will have their hands full once again with their crosstown rivals, the Reed Raiders, who will surely be looking for revenge this season after taking a 21-point loss at home in the playoffs last year.
3. Reed Raiders: I could have made a case for the Raiders to be in the number two position, but I figured that by listing them here it'll provide them with a little additional incentive to prove the pundits wrong. I believe that the Raiders have all the pieces to compete with the two teams listed above them but will slot them in here when the dust settles. For all intents and purposes, I believe that the 5A-II is a three-horse race this season.
4. McQueen Lancers: The Lancers ability to have a successful season will come on the left arm and legs of Mr. Tre LaGrone. If he can channel his inner Robby Snelling and perfect Coach Marner's RPO for his squad, then I think they are an extremely dangerous team that could surprise some people. My chief concern is "does he have the playmakers around him to be successful?" Only time will tell how this season turns out for the Lancers.
5. Reno Huskies: The Huskies are the only large class school in Northern Nevada that is breaking a new head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. I like Coach Wintch's chances of having an overall successful season but ultimately believe the Huskies will have their moments of struggle this season. Furthermore, I get the feeling that this team could potentially have two 1,000-yard RBs this season with their new approach to pounding the rock.
6. Damonte Ranch Mustangs: The Mustangs land in the sixth spot here not because of anything within their control. Ultimately, I believe the Mustangs could struggle because of [program/participation] numbers. For anyone that's ever played a down of football, they know how physical it can be. With that being said when attrition hits and you lack depth, it's a recipe for disaster, and, similar to what the Mustangs endured last year I believe it'll make for a tough season.
Class 5A, Division-III Team Previews
North Valleys Panthers
Class 5A, Division-III Predicted Order of Finish
1. Galena Grizzlies: I get the feeling that the Grizzlies are primed for a run that their program hasn't experienced since the mid-2000's. With playmakers at every skill position and Division-I talents along the offensive and defensive lines it's apparent that these Grizzlies are ready to come out of hibernation. I am excited to see how the non-league season plays out for the Grizz as they have a handful of tough contests in the season's first month. If they can get through those healthy, I believe they'll go on a deep postseason run.
2. Douglas Tigers: I might age myself with my commentary on the Tigers but whatever. Back in my day the Tigers were a powerhouse that seemingly whipped you into submission annually. While the times have changed, the tradition that still runs through the halls of Douglas has not. Head Coach Kyle Mays is a Douglas alum, and he is determined to get the Tigers back to their glory days. With a good group of returners coming back, I think this is the season Douglas returns to their 'ways of old.'
3. Hug Hawks: New campus, new coach, new direction. That could have been the motto for the Hug Hawks program headed into last season. Under the guidance and steady hand of Anthony Doucette, the Hawks were able to break a 40-game losing streak and christen their new stadium on campus. The fun didn't stop there for the Hawks as they went 6-4 overall and 4-1 in league where they went to the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade. With a renewed spirit the Hawks are in the "large class" again and will look to make noise.
4. Carson Senators: A surprise entrant into the Northern 5A playoffs last season, the Senators will look to continue their momentum from last season into this campaign. Coach Boshard and his staff believe that the time is right for the Senators to take the next step and that will include his squad being able to show some consistency game-to-game and week-to-week. If they are able to stay healthy and commit to the process, they could once again surprise some teams in our area. Their strength will be along the trenches.
5. Wooster Colts: The Colts begin the 2023 season with high hopes for continued improvement at every level of their program. Coming off the programs first playoff appearance since 2019 they will look to continue their momentum this season. I think they are a team that could sneak into the top half of these standings come season's end, but they must show improvement on the field weekly to take the next step. Coach Sellers and his staff are excited for the health of the program as they have seen an increase in participation this summer.
6. North Valleys Panthers: This absolutely pains me to put the Panthers in this position, but I don't foresee any scenario where I can put them any higher heading into the season. Of the three teams listed above them (Galena, Hug, and Wooster) that they played last season, the Panthers lost all three games by an average of 33 points per game. Until their defense improves, and they show an ability to put up points in bunches it's going to be tough sledding for the Panthers. If it's any consolation, I'll always be cheering them on from afar.
J. Ray Dockter is a proud 2004 alum of North Valleys High School and has been covering high school sports in Northern Nevada since 2022. If you have a story worth telling let him know via Twitter @J_RayDoc.