Dating back to 1981, the Sparks Sertoma Classic has given the top graduated seniors across northern Nevada the opportunity to strap on their pads and helmets one last time, pinning the Blue team against the Silver team. This year, the Blue Sertoma All-Stars will have a large tint of Blue and Gold on its squad.
Along with the 12 seniors that are on the Blue team, the Reed coaching staff will also be calling plays from the sideline. For Raiders’ head coach Ernie Howren, it is a great opportunity to get one last game with his senior crew.
“It’s nice to get another opportunity to hang out and coach the kids,” Howren said. “We had such a fun time with these kids over four years. Now we have an opportunity to extend that for one more week. For this to be a part of the end of their high school career, it means a lot to us as a coaching staff. It means everything. We’re here for these guys. That’s why we coach.
“To get one more week to hang out with these guys, it’s made this experience just awesome. Obviously, the other kids from the other schools are great too. Competing against teams you learn to hate them and now that you get to play together, you find out that we’re all the same. I’m just excited to see these kids fly around and just show everybody the skills that have made them the all-stars that they are. We all just want to work hard and play football.”
The coaches were not the only ones soaking in one more shot on the gridiron.
“I’m just trying to enjoy it all,” Reed linebacker Broc Westlake said. “It’s just fun flying around with everyone. It’s good to get one last memory with my teammates and being able to play again with them is awesome. Just to get a second shot at it for one more week is fun. I’m looking forward to playing under the lights again. I won’t be playing under them next year in college so it’ll be good to get under the lights one last time.”
While the Raiders are enjoying their time back on the field together, they are also taking in the chance to get to know the opponents that they’ve competed against for the past four years.
“It’s cool playing with the other kids from other schools because you just have fun with them,” Reed quarterback A.J. Silva said. “At first I thought it was going to be weird but then you just get to know them. They’re all cool kids. Their just like the kids at Reed, but they’re new faces so it’s cool to joke around with them and have fun.”
Raiders’ wide receiver Beau Tittensor shared the sentiments.
“It’s actually pretty cool because you get to see how everyone is and how we interact with each other,” Tittensor said. “It’s pretty fun. It’s definitely different. It’s cool because you take a different outlook on everyone. During the season you don’t know them and their just an opponent and now you get to know them and everyone kind of just has fun. It’s a great opportunity to play in an all-star game like this. Just being out there again is going to be fun.”
As the players got acquainted with one another, they were also trying to digest a new game plan in less than a week. Although it is no easy task, Howren, who is coaching in the Sertoma Classic for his fourth time, said the kids were up to it.
“You have to accept the fact that it’s not easy installing offense and defense. It is quick and you just take it for what it is,” Howren said. “The other side of that is that these are smart, athletic kids. They’re going to pick stuff up pretty quick. So no matter what you’re teaching, they’re going to figure it out.”
With the game plan in place and kickoff set for tonight at 7 p.m. at Damonte Ranch High School, the kids are ready for one final game under the Friday night lights.
“We’re going to play,” Westlake said. “I think both sides are going to play hard and compete. It’s our last chance to get out there and play together, so we won’t be holding back.”
Three Spanish Springs players and two Sparks players were invited to compete in the festivities this week but were unable to attend for personal reasons.
12-player Reed contingent:
Kyle Von Schimmelmann