Courtesy photo
Eureka’s Chris Drayton attempts a diving grab during the Vandals 38-6 win over Whittell last year. Drayton figures to be a key member of the 2019 team that kicks off its season Saturday at Smith Valley.

“Happy days are here again, the skies are bright and clear again.”

Sure, that’s a line from Franklin Roosevelt’s 1932 presidential campaign, but it fits because high school football season is here again. 2019 marks the 97th year of high school ball in Nevada.

Also of interest, the NFL is observing 100 years in 2019.

Eureka was 10-2 last year, won the 1A East 8-man league, won a playoff game with Excel Christian, before losing to Tonopah in the state semifinals, so the boys look to do equally as well this season.

August 24 is the opening game of the season and with long- time foe, the Smith Valley Bulldogs, once part of the 1A North west league, but again this year in the 1A Central League. Smith Valley was 2-6 last season, finishing in fourth place in the five-team Central League.

Coming into this game, the Bulldogs hold a 7-6 edge in the series that has reported on since 2004. The Vandals won last year’s game 44-8.

On August 30, the boys play their first home game of the season hosting the Coleville Wolves.

The teams have squared off early in the season the past nine years. Coleville has won seven of the nine, including the last three. Last year’s score was 54-30. Eureka has won twice in the series, 62-0 in 2016 and 20-14 in 2015.

Having done as well as they did last year, Vandals coach Fred Minoletti is in high hopes that even though there are only five seniors on the squad, they will be able to “keep the ball rolling.”

The Vandals only graduated two players, both of whom played quite a bit, Garrett Todd and Tristan Bircham. “We have quite a few returning lettermen,” Minoletti said, including seven juniors.

“Our key players will be Gage Hayward. Chris Drayton and Preston Hubbard.”

Eureka did lose Wyatt Anderson, last year’s quarterback, who moved to Mesquite and Virgin Valley High School. Sophomore Clayton Shoda will start the season at quarterback.

“We’ll run much the same offenses we have in the past. Do a lot of power formation and a stack defense often, but we can change that depending on who we are playing and what their strengths are,” said Minoletti.

Following the opening game of the season, the Vandals schedule will be a like a door that swings both ways, one week at home, the next week on the road, with the final game before playoffs Oct. 25 at Wells.

Jerry Don Todd will be the assistant coach.