They toil in anonymity, but they do it because they love the gridiron.
There aren’t any scouts present. It’s rare when someone makes it out of 8 man Football to play in college on Saturdays. It happens, but university scouts might not be able to find Mineral County High anyway. If you blink, you’d miss Carlin. Nevada 1-A football is played out in the sticks.
There aren’t many Friday night lights either at these games. At many of their schools, there aren’t lights at all. Sierra Lutheran still doesn’t have lights, but they’ve only had a field for three years. The Falcons have only had a program for five years, spending their first two seasons on the road with all away games.
Today, a beautiful sunny mid-September afternoon on the border of Douglas County and Carson City, the 1-2 Falcons are taking on the 2-0 Smith Valley Bulldogs. Smith Valley demolished Carlin last week at home 54-12 and took down Eureka 46-16 the week before. The Bulldogs real test comes in a few weeks against currently undefeated Tonopah.
One of Smith Valley’s leaders and team captains is Junior linebacker Dillon Gregg (22), a two-way starter. Gregg was the Bulldog’s defensive player of the game last week and already has a fumble recovery, a half dozen tackles and is blowing up Sierra Lutheran’s offensive game plans all before halftime. This is very impressive considering he plays offensive line and only stands 5’9” and weighs in at 160 lbs with a full uniform on.
The Sierra Lutheran Falcons counter with another two way starter, most NV 1-A players are listed as such, in Junior Shawn Emm. Emm is a 6’1”, 200 lbs running back/linebacker. He’s been one of the only bright spots for a Falcons team depleted with injuries and illness.
Emm looks like a man-mountain compared to Gregg when they meet in the middle of the field. The passionate Gregg obviously plays with a lot of heart and solid tackling technique when he collides with Emm. Despite the lop-sided score, currently 56-0 in the fourth quarter with a running clock, they play on for the love of the sport.
Scott Riley has a Senior daughter playing for Douglas High Ladies Varsity Lacrosse and a Freshmen son on the 9th grade Football team. He is married and has a 5th grade son who plays almost everything through Douglas County Recreation. Scott roots also for the Carson High Senators & the Sierra Lutheran Falcons as the Student Pastor of LifePoint Church in Minden.
Thanks to Cole Contreras and Stephen West for fact-checking this article while it was being written.