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SEASON PREVIEW: Reed revved up for fall campaign
by Dan Eckles
Aug 27, 2013 | 1601 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Junior Jackson Gilmore and his Raiders teammates were busy working out in the Reed gym Saturday morning after the team's preseason scrimmage was called off due to poor air quality in the region.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Junior Jackson Gilmore and his Raiders teammates were busy working out in the Reed gym Saturday morning after the team's preseason scrimmage was called off due to poor air quality in the region.
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Tribune photo by John Byrne - Reed tailback Jodran Carter looks for running room during a drill at the Raiders' indoor practice Saturday.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Reed tailback Jodran Carter looks for running room during a drill at the Raiders' indoor practice Saturday.
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Veteran Reed football coach Ernie Howren isn't exactly happy about the smoky air in the region that's put a damper on his preseason camp, cancelling practices, pushing others inside and forcing school district officials to nix traditional scrimmages one week before Opening Night.

And yet, he's trying to take it all in stride, knowing there's not much he can do about it without risking the health of his players.

"We haven't gotten what we've wanted out of fall camp this year, but we have to roll with it," Howren said. "We don't have a choice. We have to find a way to make the best of the situation. If going into our gym is the best way to still get a practice in and focus on our offensive and defensive schemes, we'll have to use that.

"I keep going back to the kids' work ethic. I'd never have thought we'd get a quality practice in the gym and we have. That's because of the kids and their great work ethic."

Reed got through a long offseason. Raiders players have been lifting weights to get stronger and competing in non-contact drills since the spring. Howren admitted he's proud of watching his team overcome a long offseason journey.

"We really feel like we have an (offseason) gameplan that we use every year," Howren said. "We tweak it year to year but we feel like the kids have bought in with hard work and positive energy. We've gotten that on a daily basis. The kids have really impressed me when they've come to practice."

Reed is not alone in offering a nearly year-long offseason conditioning and practice schedule. Most Div. 1 schools statewide have a similar plan in place. That's a far cry from 20 years ago when the prep football season was limited largely to three months. So what do Reed, which has won three of the last four northern Nevada large-school titles, and programs like it hope to gain from an arduous offseason program.

"Nothing comes for free and you have to work hard for what you want," Howren said. "There will be days where you're going to face adversity. You might go to the weight room and you're a little tired or maybe you have some family issues, but you've still got a job to do.

"One thing about athletics is it's always there to teach lessons to kids. You still have to find a way to go to work and get the job done because it is about family. That's why you have the offseason program. It's not only about getting bigger, faster and stronger, but it's a daily grind and that's what the season is like. It comes with bumps and bruises, but no matter what, Friday night is coming and you have to get prepared for that. You don't have a choice."

Reed coaches still have a choice to make about who their starting quarterback will be. Senior Chris Denn, who saw some time under center late in games in a mop-up role last fall, and junior Jackson Gilmore are both fighting for the starting signal caller job.

"We haven't made a decision yet," Howren said in a phone interview Sunday. "Chris Denn, I've been very impressed with his approach to the game and then there's Jackson Gilmore and I love some things he brings to the game. He's a big strong kid with a big arm. Each guy brings something different than the other. We'll keep evaluating on a daily basis. What's fun is they're making it hard on us coaches. They're both doing really well right now."

Reed's offense has made a name for itself in recent years by utilizing the spread attack. It won't get away from that this year and the Raiders hope to run it as fast as they possibly can. RHS coaches believe a key factor in Reed's success early on and throughout the season will be defined by how fast the offense can play efficiently.

"We're still going to be a hurry-up, no-huddle offense," Howren said. "Our goal is to be as fast as we can. The simple answer for the spread is you want to spread people vertically and horizontally and at some point you want to put the defender in conflict.

"A big goal is get to game speed as fast as we possibly can. If this group of kids can gel as a team and get to that game speed, then I don't see any reason we can't do some good things this year."

Because Reed's offense has been so prolific in its recent run of North championships, its defense has been a bit unheralded. But Howren knows how big a piece his defense has been in the Raiders' success. He thinks his 2013 group can be pretty good too.

"We're so excited about those guys," Howren said of his defensive unit. "This is probably one of the fastest defenses we've had. We've got great speed and great strength up front with our defensive line. Our linebackers are really shaping up. We're seeing physical play there led by those four. Our defense is led by Austin Warner, a safety. I feel like he has a chance to be the defensive player of the year. Nobody has a nose for the football like Austin does. Defense is about hitting people and he loves to do it."

Reed opens its 2013 fall campaign Friday night at home against Foothill of Palo Cedro, Calif. The two schools played in Week 2 of last season on Foothill's campus in suburban Redding. This return trip is a big game for Howren, who took over the head coaching duties at Reed in 2001. In addition to being Opening Night, a win would give Howren his 100th career victory.

In short, there's plenty of reason to be amped up for some gridiron action at Reed.

"We're so excited about football," Howren said. "Just based on these smoky conditions, I feel like we're being teased right now. We can't get on the field outside, but it's going to happen. We've got a game Friday night and we're going to get back out there. It may not have been an easy preseason camp, but we'll get through it."

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