As far as breaks go, the Eureka High School football team received a huge one entering their season opener against Virginia City during the weekend.
Unhealthy heavy smoke from the Rim Fire in Yosemite blanketed Northern Nevada for the good part of a week, prompting NIAA officials to cancel most outdoor high school activities in the area. Rather than cancel the games altogether, some schools came to an agreement and had their games moved to a neutral location, or in the case of the Vandals, the opposing teams’ field.
The Vandals weren’t able to benefit from the move though, and fell to the Muckers 52-0.
“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” said first-year Eureka coach Fred Minoletti. “The score doesn’t indicate it, but our defense wasn’t all that bad.”
Despite the score, the Vandals high points of the day did come on the defensive side as they were able to muster up two interceptions. Unfortunately for Minoletti and his young squad, the two picks weren’t able to carry-over on offense, and the team could only manage one first down all afternoon.
“Virginia City is always a tough team to play,” Minoletti said. “They move the ball really well and have just an all-around good program.”
The Muckers used their running game to jump out to an early 20-0 first quarter lead, and built on it to take a 36-0 lead into the break. The visitors reached the end zone seven times throughout the game, including two scores from sophomore running back Price Posten, who led both teams with 168 yards on 12 carries. Senior wideout Steve Punchard also had a big day with two touchdowns and 61 yards in the air.
The blowout wasn’t the way Minoletti and his staff wanted to start the season, but he realizes they are a young team that will get better with experience. The Vandals have just two seniors on the team, Barry Sanders and Garret Johnson, and three juniors. The rest of the squad is made up of sophomores and freshman.
“We’re young, and some of our players are still learning and inexperienced,” he said. “We’re trying to build the program from the start, and we know that will take some time. For us, it’s about focusing on the little stuff. We want to be more competitive and hope to gain some respect back for Vandal football.”
Eureka will now turn its attention to another tough test on Friday night when Coleville comes to town. The Wolves have yet to take the field this year, but are coming off of another strong season that saw them go 8-1 overall.
“Coleville does a lot of the same things that Virginia City does, and are equally as tough,” Minoletti said. “We’ve been working on containing the outside better in practice this week and offensively we’ll be switching things up a bit. We are looking to improve every week.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday at the Eureka High School football field.