Area Prep Football Teams Hard At Work

Main objective for PVL squads: Find a QB
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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Spring football is over for area high school football teams and though it’s still early June, summer passing leagues and full contact team camps are going full throttle. So, let’s see here, if we haven’t celebrated Flag Day yet, isn’t it too early to try and start dissecting Pioneer Valley League football teams’ fortunes for 2009? Nah, you know me better than that. As of this week, no fewer than three Pioneer Valley League schools already had their varsity football teams in full pads and were locking horns with Div. I opponents at contact team camps. Mesa Verde and Bear River made their annual trek to the University of Nevada team camp in Reno while Placer headed down Highway 99 to Turlock where the Pitman team camp attracted the likes of Atwater, Los Banos, Oakdale and Hilmar. Wait a minute, Placer and Oakdale going at it in June ? What’s this off-season football stuff coming to? At Colfax, coach Tony Martello had his Falcons go on even terms with Oak Ridge in a 7 on 7 passing scrimmage last week. Tuesday evening the Falcons lined up against defending North Section AA champion Sutter in another passing game. In July, Colfax heads to a full contact team camp at Sutter. Later this month Lincoln’s Zebras venture to Ashland, Oregon and the University of Southern Oregon for a team camp while El Dorado joins Hiram Johnson and Franklin in July at the Sheldon team camp. These days, it’s a must to travel to a team camp just to keep up with the Jones’. “It’s a great opportunity to get in pads and see what your guys can do,” said Mesa Verde coach Ron Barney from Reno. “We’re pleased with what we’ve seen up here so far.” For the most part in the PVL this summer, one major object for every team in the league will be the same: find a quarterback. All seven PVL schools lost their starting quarterbacks from a year ago, some via graduation and another - Joe Earnshaw at El Dorado – via a transfer to Ponderosa. “I thought we were set at quarterback and then we lose Earnshaw,” said El Dorado coach Rick Redding. “These days you never know.” Redding is also feeling the loss of talented running back C.J. Wheeler. Wheeler, who rushed for 955 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last season for the Cougars, does not attend El Dorado anymore. “We’ll probably start eight juniors on offense and nine on defense,” said Redding. “We’ll be young.” Here’s a rundown on the early quarterback situations around the PVL: Bear River – The Bruins will be looking to 6 foot 2 inch sophomore James Harris who guided the school’s freshman team to an 8-2 record last year. Bear River lost senior quarterback Brian Pedro to an out of area move while junior Joey Lavelle is not in the program this season. Placer – With last season’s back-up Michael Gray (6-4 230) receiving Div. I looks on defense, the Hillmen look to be directed by junior Colin Burnett. Burnett guided the Hillmen to the PVL junior varsity title a year ago. Colfax – The Falcons lost Spencer Lewis to graduation and this summer Martello is looking at a trio of candidates. Among the contenders are strong-armed senior Mark Macholz, southpaw junior Avery Baccala and 6 foot 4 inch sophomore Austin Young. “We’re giving them all snaps this summer,” said Martello. “They each do different things well.” This weekend the Falcons will vie in the San Jose State Shootout passing tournament. Whitney – Coach Mike Gimenez could have a diamond in the rough in 6 foot 2 inch sophomore Jake Rodrigues who actually played in a varsity non-league game late in the season last year as a freshman. The Wildcats will compete at the Sacramento State team camp. Mesa Verde – With strong-armed Andrew Greene lost to graduation, the Mavericks are using the summer to look at different candidates. “It’s wide open,” said Barney. Lincoln – The Zebras return a bevy of players and will be augmented by a junior class that went 9-1 last season. “The quarterback position is up for grabs,” said Lincoln coach Ken Lowe. El Dorado - With Earnshaw departing, Redding will be using the summer to find someone to hand the ball of to 6-3 230-pound tailback J.D. Darr who will run behind 6-6 310-pound Div. I recruit Ian Joseph.