Our High Desert League preview this year consist of teams that compete from West Reno all the way to East Sparks giving Northern Nevada some fantastic football. We will break each team down by our projections for their season based upon roster, staff, schedule, and past performances.
TEAM: SPANISH SPRINGS COUGARS
PRESEASON SIERRA LEAGUE RANKING: 1ST
HEAD COACH: ERIC BORJA
This season the Cougars come into the year with the ability to contend for a league title. The offense returns underclassmen quarterback Tristan Szabo who took the league by storm putting up good numbers while not being the fulltime starter last year. Szabo is not only a good throwing QB but a bit of a dual threat QB. They also return a key running back in Colby Preston who put up good numbers with decent size, expect him to grow this season not only in size but with numbers as his contributions should be key. Jordan Dudick and Jackson Laduke will both return to give the Cougars offense an opportunity to stretch the field. Ryan Fauls and Michael Jefferson are two players Coach Borja expects to contribute on the offensive line. Defensively the Cougars should be just as talented as they return a ton of key playmakers this season. Ryan Fauls and Michael Jefferson will be players Coach Borja relies on to get into the backfield and stop the run game. Preston and Laduke will be the best linebackers the Cougars have as they have already shown they have a lot of tackling power. The secondary contains a returner in Colby Melton who had over five interceptions last season he will be opposite of Michael Binnell a safety learning to build on his young career in Spanish Springs. Head Coach Eric Borja has come into Spanish Springs and changed his program for the better. He looks for the next step in taking his team not only to the playoffs but for a regional championship.
TEAM: MCQUEEN LANCERS
PRESEASON SIERRA LEAGUE RANKING: 2ND
HEAD COACH: JIM SNELLING
The Lancers enter this year with extreme optimism having a terrific quarterback-running back combo duo in Dominique Stallworth and JD Kolb. Stallworth really came into his own at the end of last season putting up good numbers, we can expect further growth and even bigger numbers this season as he enters his senior campaign. JD Kolb is another player that will enter his Senior year but after verbally committing to the Air Force Academy he will be “all in” on the Lancer season looking to take the team to new heights. The McQueen Lancers graduated quite a few players on the defensive side of the ball but with the way Coach Snelling staff subs out his players and develops the younger players this could be the year we hear from a player we don’t know. Expect this year for the Lancers to focus on the defensive side of the ball with offense being a little more secure. Jim Snelling enters his 10thseason after taking over for the late great Ken Dalton and if there was ever a season to be excited about it would be this one. The Lancers have a solid offense a sound defense and a staff hungry to get back to being regional contenders. The McQueen staff puts character and academics above all something that you really have to praise. Coach Snelling is a man of values and integrity and something that will truly help his players not only in school but in life as men.
TEAM: REED RAIDERS
PRESEASON SIERRA LEAGUE RANKING: 3RD
HEAD COACH: TONY AMANTIA
The Raiders offense will look very different as it has few returners from last season. Reed will have an offense where Baylor Horning immediately steps up as the leader he has seen playing time over the past couple of years when the Raiders were up in the second half of games often. Reed also loses one of their best running backs in program history in Josiah Schmidt expect Champ Robertson to fill that position and come out as another team leader. The Raiders when it comes to receivers and tight ends should bring back some players with playing time from last year. When it comes to offensive line play expect big things from John Keeley this season. This year the Raiders will have the talent to compete it all depends on how they play together as unit. The Raiders defense will rely on mixing up their looks giving multiple 3-4 looks to other teams while also relying on some of the players we have previously mentioned. As we know Coach Amantia is big on line play whether it be offensive or defensive and this year Keeley will assist with that. The Raiders have some players ready to step up but when it comes to the rest of the defense expect Champ Robertson to be a key player. Tony Amantia is entering his second year and he will not only look to grow with the Reed Raider culture but grow with a very different roster. Amantia has shown in the many years of coaching he is up for any task and genuinely cares about every player he has coached. This year expect Coach Amantia to put some more of his flare on the schemes for the Raiders while continuing what works for his team.
TEAM: RENO HUSKIES
PRESEASON SIERRA LEAGUE RANKING: 4TH
HEAD COACH: DAN AVANSINO
The Reno Huskies this year are looking to fill some of the gaps they have in their offense with graduating players creating those holes, most notably Brandon Kaho. The Huskies have had this problem in the past but every time they wonder who will step up someone like clockwork does just that. The Huskies should have a bigger offensive line this year and will find some playmakers as the season progresses only time will tell. Reno High defensively will build upon a lot of players that were on the roster last year but did not get a lot of playing time. This defense will showcase good size as the Huskies are very senior heavy this season and with an offseason to grow that should only help them. Head Coach Dan Avansino is easily the most unpredictable coach in Northern Nevada not letting the media or other team know much at all about his scheme or who he is starting. Coach Avansino is a man that believes in his players and knows they are capably of just about anything as he does run multiple types of offense and defense.
TEAM: HUG HAWKS
PRESEASON SIERRA LEAGUE RANKING: 5TH
HEAD COACH: CARL LAGRONE
The Hug Hawks have an offense that will match their team philosophy of winning the game in the trenches. They have key returning lineman Motu Amotai and Finau Malafu both players that will be huge for the Hawks on their line. Hug looks to shows the North a variety of formations that display attacking style offensive concepts. The Hawks this year are expecting to attack the ball by seeing the ball and attacking the ball in the backfield. The lineman previously mentioned will contribute for Hug but also we can expect a linebacker Ta’a Moala to again contribute as he did last year with over 40 tackles. Coach LaGrone and his staff continue to look for the winning ingredient to get his team back into playoff contention. The Hug Hawks are a team that values some of the tradition its head coach valued.