As the two schools gear up for their 2012 debuts this weekend, they are the favorites once again to be dominant in the HDL. All six league coaches participated in the Tribune’s yearly preseason poll and all six casted either McQueen or Reed on top of their selections.
“I think it will be a close call at the top with McQueen and Reed,” North Valleys coach Ty Gregg said. “Reed lost a few guys but it should have little trouble reloading this year. McQueen has a very talented group coming up from their JV’s last year.”
McQueen garnered four first-place votes to Reed’s two. The Lancers racked up 34 points in the poll compared to Reed’s 30.
“McQueen had a very good season last year,” Hug coach Derek Bennett said. “I believe its senior class has only lost one game in four years. I just believe they have a tradition of winning and once you build that kind of tradition and fall into that, it seems easier to keep achieving your goals.”
Other coaches had similar sentiments as to why they picked Reed atop the poll.
“I just think based on their lower level success the last few years, that it could project the same type of success that they’ve had in previous years,” Reno coach Dan Avansino said about Reed. “That’s been a pretty good precursor for them in years past. There’s no question Reed’s got it rolling. They’ve taken that spot as the top team in this area right now. They’ve taken the lead for sure.”
Reed has won two of the last three Northern 4A crowns and three since 2004.
Spanish Springs and Reno took the next two spots in the poll, grabbing 21 and 20 points respectively. The Cougars were just 3-8 last year, but some believe the SSHS gridders could be a darkhorse this fall.
“I think Spanish Springs definitely with some of the players it has coming back could be an up-and-coming program,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said.
Gregg had similar sentiments.
“Spanish Springs is that darkhorse team,” he said. “They return possibly the best quarterback-wide receiver combination in our league in Hunter Fralick and Vance Lively.”
Avansino said picking a darkhorse is always tough.
“I just don’t know enough about other teams’ rosters,” he said. I don’t want to say this team or that. You just have to believe in your own team’s chances to improve and get better throughout the year. I think the league is pretty even. In general I think it will be pretty balanced. All 11 teams in the North should be real competitive.”
North Valleys (11 points) and Hug (10) rounded out the bottom two spots in the poll,
On the Sierra League side, only four of the league’s five coaches participated in the preseason picks. First-year Damonte coach Shaw Dupris chose not to participate.
The limited Sierra League voting came out like this: Douglas (18), Carson 15, Manogue (12), Galena (9), Damonte (5). Only Carson and Douglas received first-place votes.
“I believe our league will be wide-open,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “We have as good a chance as anybody. Douglas has two particularly good impact players back. Our impact players are more unproven ... Galena and Damonte both could surprise. Damonte has some real nice players returning. Galena has a nice senior class, many of whom have played on varsity since being sophomores.”
At Douglas, long-time assistant Ernie Monfiletto takes over for Mike Rippee, who retired after last season. Monfiletto has still been around long enough to have informed opinions about his league.
“Carson is the favorite because they have established themselves as the number one team,” he said. “The rest of the league has to prove otherwise in order to be considered. It’s called respect. As far as a darkhorse, the unknown is always concerning. That could be Damonte Ranch.”