Group of six assistants stacked with playing experience
When Tony Amantia took the Reed job in mid February, he found himself in a juxtaposed position.
Yes, he was taking over the most dominant program in the 4A North. The Raiders have won five of the last six, and six of the last eight, regional titles. But he also needed to replace an entire coaching staff. All of legendary coach Ernie Howren’s assistants went with him to Bishop Manogue in January.
So, on top of introducing himself to the team and the community, he had to find the men who would stand alongside him on the sidelines. He helped ease the transition by deciding not to change a good thing. Reed’s dynamic spread offense will remain unchanged. Now, he has his staff filled with six full time assistants heading into his first season trying to fill Howren’s headset.
“I think we have a pretty good nucleus of guys at the varsity and our lower levels are pretty solid. We have some good people in good places … I feel like we have quality people, a lot of guys that will be a foundation for a long time,” Amantia said. “We have a good solid foundation of guys. You’ve got really good depth at Reed with all the returners and a good nucleus of kids coming back. Right now, we’re in the process of making sure all the things we need to coach, get coached.”
It would be difficult to find a local staff with more ability. Half of the hires played at Nevada and were each significant contributors for multiple seasons. Amantia knows there’s more to the job than being a good player back when.
“Athletically, we’re one heck of a staff… But there’s a lot more to it than just being a good athlete,” he said. “It’s being able to relate to the kids, and being able to teach … All these guys are good teachers and you know, we’re learning. It’s our first year together. We have a great group of kids. And we’re trying to work out all the kinks as we speak.”
Here’s a look at the six assistants on staff who were hired, along with JV and freshman coaches, from 40 total interviews Amantia conducted.
Maurice Carter, offensive coordinator
Carter is the single carryover from Howren’s staff. He was previously the JV coach and is now responsible for Reed’s spread offense.
Amantia, who said from the day he was hired he didn’t want to change the offensive system, was fortunate to get Carter. The Reed lifer has spent just as much of the spring and summer teaching Amantia the offense, as he has the players.
“Maurice knows the offense and that was the one thing I did not want to change,” Amantia said. “He’s got incredible work ethic and knows a lot of people in the community … He’s just been phenomenal.
“With all the changes, he wanted to be a part of the program and it didn’t take me long to figure out how passionate he was and that I needed to make him my offensive coordinator and one of my right-hand men.”
Carter is the lone recognizable face from the past regime and with quarterback Cameron Emerson back for his senior season, he was arguably the biggest hire made by Amantia.
Garrett Hughes, special teams coordinator/offensive and defensive line coach
Hughes is the swiss army knife of the staff, one of the newest additions, and he’s come the furthest.
He was hired earlier this summer all the way from Tennessee. His wife got a job at Tesla in the spring.
Hughes played tight end and half back at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (an FCS program) where he was named First Team All-Southern Conference as a senior in 2010. He finished that season with 346 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
At Reed, Hughes will be all over the field coordinating special teams and coaching both the offensive and defensive lines. Amantia had a previous offensive line coach in place, but the hire fell through.
“He (Hughes) is very skilled in a lot of different areas,” Amantia said.
Hughes has spent much of the last half decade as an assistant at Austin-East High School in Knoxville. He joined the team in 2013, coming off a 3-7 season. Last year, the Roadrunners went 12-2, advancing to the state semifinals.
Jerome Johnson, defensive assistant
Johnson is a name many Nevada fans may remember.
Johnson played linebacker for the Wolf Pack from 2006-08 then spent a handful of years bouncing around in the NFL at the halfback position with the Rams, Giants and Cardinals. He was active for one game with Arizona in 2010.
Despite playing at the highest level on the offensive side of the football, he will be a defensive guru for the Raiders. Amantia, who is also the defensive coordinator, said Johnson could eventually take over that roll, in part, because he is particularly familiar with the defense in place.
“He really understands our defense,” Amantia said. “He actually played in the same scheme in college as the one we’re using right now. And he’s great with the kids.”
Johnson has also coached at Hug.
Del Bates, secondary/return coach
Like Carter, Bates is also a Reed graduate. Like Johnson, he’s also a name Nevada fans could remember.
Bates played at Nevada (after transferring from UNLV) in the 1998 and 2000 seasons. He was the fastest player for the Wolf Pack, at corner back and kick returner. He had five interceptions and returned one kick for a touchdown in his two seasons.
After a brief go at the NFL, he tried to use his blazing speed and qualify for the Olympic team a sprinter on a relay team.
Bates set the state record in the 100 and 200 meters while at Reed.
He makes up the final third of a defensive brain trust that Amantia said is already gelling.
“I’m pretty fortunate because I have myself, the Jerome Johnson and Del Bates,” Amantia said. “We kind of all speak the same language and we all see the same things when we’re practicing. It’s not like you have to go explain something to somebody. We’re kind of on the same wavelength.”
Kenny Rogers, receivers coach
Bishop Manogue got Howren from Reed, but Reed got Rogers from Bishop Manogue.
Rogers, the youngest on the staff as a 2012 high school graduate, was a skill player for the 4A North’s lone private school then went on to Sierra Community College in Rocklin, Calif., where he played defensive back and his career was cut short due to concussions.
He was an assistant for the last few years at North Valleys after graduating from Nevada.
Rogers was responsible for over 800 yards of offense and 11 touchdowns his senior year for the Miners.
Derek Jones, kicking coach
Jones is the fourth former Nevada player on the staff, including Amantia.
He punted for the Pack from 2000-03 (was teammates with Bates for the 2000 season) and compiled over 10,000 yards punting in his collegiate career. He was an all-state selection at McQueen, where he was part of a state championship team in 1997.
Jones was also the kicking coach for Amantia at Damonte Ranch.