Hug coach Rollins Stallworth expects a "fun and festive" contest for three quarters when the annual Sertoma All-Star Football Game takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mackay Stadium.
But when the fourth quarter rolls around, Stallworth said it will be serious business in which he'll do everything possible to win the game. Stallworth has the talent that gives him the chance to execute his game plan when his Silver team takes on the Blue on Friday.
Once again the format in which Stallworth and Blue coach Dave McLean of Lovelock "drafted" schools in an effort to make the game as evenly matched as possible.
"The new method is definitely the way to go," Stallworth said. "It at least guarantees on paper the sense that the teams are going to have equal representation of the best athletes in the area."
Stallworth obviously had somewhat of a built-in advantage as his roster is stacked with players from his Hawks team that finished as the NIAA 4A State runner-up last season. Stallworth also ended up with players from McQueen, whose Hug team beat for last year's Northern 4A crown.
But the cupboard isn't exactly bear for the Blue, which has strong representation from the NIAA 3A State Champion Truckee, which many believed was among the state's top teams at any level. The Blue also has players from Galena, which gave McQueen all it could handle in last year's Northern 4A semifinals.
Both teams will also have several outstanding running backs in the game. Among the top running backs for the Blue will be Spring Creek's James Edwards and Galena's Ryan Krueger while for the Silver will be Hug's Gabe Dobbins and Carson's Bryan Maffei. In addition, the Silver has Yerington's Ricky Menesini at running back.
Stallworth said he lacks depth at running back, but it's hard to feel sorry for him when he talks about having to use his outstanding linebacker, Hug's Darren Shepherd at fullback. "I don't think he'll do that bad of a job," Stallworth said.
He added that some players will have to play both ways. Among those who likely will go both ways and has been impressive is Fallon's Rick Cornu, who plays receiver and defensive back. "We do have multiple stars that play on both sides of the ball," Stallworth said.
Along with Cornu, there's plenty of talent at receiver with Hug's Darryl Feemster and Carson's Scott Witter. Another one of the more impressive players has been Maffei.
"He'll be playing all the time," said Stallworth about Maffei. Stallworth said Maffei will return kicks and has been impressive catching the ball out of the backfield.
"He's a lot better blocker than I thought he was," Stallworth said. "He's been very physical in practice. He's the complete package."
The Silver also has two running quarterbacks in McQueen's Ryan Wickes and Fernley's Colin Hodges. That means the game plan will likely call for more option, Stallworth said.
Among other local players on the Silver roster are Carson linemen Eric Walther and Zach Taylor, defensive back Ryan Jesse and tight end Jason Dittenber. Menesini is joined on the roster by his Yerington teammates lineman Ryan Gilmore and linebacker Matt Richardson.
Hodges is joined on the roster by teammates punter Colt Ainsworth, lineman Joe Carter and receiver Jori Kaeser. Douglas is represented on the Silver roster by linemen James Barnard and Cory Fry and linebacker Ryan Guzman.
Krueger is joined on the Blue roster by teammates defensive end Cole Dowty, linebacker Casey Ernst, lineman Matthew Aiken and James Ripsom and receiver Tony Fritsche. Also on the Blue roster is Dayton receiver Jordan Stokes.
Stallworth said his job is to "make sure you highlight the talent of the kids you have." He also doesn't plan to overcoach.
"The kids are going to have to use their athletic ability and get things done," he said. "We're excited with the group of kinds on the team."
Among Stallworth's assistants is Carson coach Shane Quilling. "He's real enthusiastic," Stallworth said. "He takes his job seriously.
"He has a good relationship and rapport with the kids. It's been neat working with him."