Reed was scheduled to play Arizona’s defending Div. II state champion, Saguaro, in its season opener at Mackay Stadium in late August.
Then ESPN got in the way.
The major sports conglomerate offered to pay for Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) to square off with Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) as part of its Kickoff Classic the same weekend. It was a deal too good to pass up for the Saguaro staff. Reed coach Ernie Howren found out last Monday that he no longer had a week one foe.
Twenty emails were sent out that night in search of an opponent. One responded with an opening: Clayton Valley Charter (Concord, Calif.).
“That’s the whole goal, to have a full schedule of 10 (regular season) games,” Howren said. “We want to be able to get our kids as many possible competitions as we can. The season is short enough as it is. The possibility that we were going to lose a game made me sick to my stomach.”
The Ugly Eagles (yes, that’s the real mascot) are one of Northern California’s strongest powers. They are 51-7 over the last four season with a pair of runner-up finishes the last two.
“They’ve become a Northern California power house,” Howren said. “Coach Tim Murphy is a well-respected coach in the coaching community, especially here in Northern Nevada/Northern California. You know who Coach Murphy is. He’s a hell of a coach.”
Because it was short notice, Reed will make the trip to Concord on August 26 for the opener instead of playing at Mackay. For Howren, it will be a homecoming. He attended Clayton Valley before continuing his football career as offensive lineman at Utah State from 1989-93. Clayton Valley will come to Northern Nevada in 2017.
Reed would have been in one of three scheduled games Mackay Stadium as part of the second Battle Born Classic on Saturday, August 27. Instead, it will be just two games. Carson will play Desert Mountain (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Galena will play Mesa (Mesa, Ariz.).
Mesa was led by previous Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare the last two seasons before he stepped down last month to pursue a doctorate degree.
Howren said it wasn’t himself, or Carson coach Blair Roman, or Galena coach Steve Struzyk, who originated the idea of the Battle Born Classic. Instead, it was Nevada coach Brian Polian, who is entering his fourth year leading the Wolf Pack.
“You have to give most of the credit to Coach Polian. He offered Mackay Stadium to us two years ago,” Howren said. “He has followed through both years. Whatever he could do to help, he’s done. He’s been a real huge proponent of getting high school teams up there to play which has just been awesome on his part. It’s really appreciated in the high school community here in (Northern Nevada).”
Along with playing Clayton Valley, Reed will also play Douglas, Carson, Oak Ridge (El Dorado, Calif.) and Bishop Manogue in its non-league schedule. The contests with Douglas and Carson (who Reed has bested in four of the last five regional title games) will be on the road as well.
“You have so many quality opponents. We’re on the road quite a bit with that. I love that,” Howren said of the non-league slate. “We have to learn how to travel right away. I always feel like you have to be prepared for that.”