If there’s anyone who deserves a break, who deserves to exhale and kick their feet up, it’s Rob Kittrell.
After 19 years as the head football coach at Sparks, Kittrell stepped down from his post early last week. I feel I can speak for his former players, coaches he’s worked with and against, the administration at Sparks High, and anyone else he’s associated with as I say, thank you, Rob.
There are much easier jobs in this world than head football coach at Sparks High. Yet year in and year out, for nearly two decades, he showed up in August with a belief in his kids. He hung with them. He gave them a chance.
Now, I only knew Rob for a small percentage of his tenure (three of 19 years). And when I arrived in Sparks fresh out of college, I showed up amidst a multi-season skid. There were probably more enticing options after another frustrating loss than dealing with a newbie reporter bumbling through questions.
“You guys lost by a decent margin. What made it so tough to stop them?”
See what I’m saying?
Rob wouldn’t shake his head in frustration or irritation. He would give an honest, thoughtful response.
It’s a minor detail, sure , but it’s something I always appreciated. And it’s evidence of the kind of coach and mentor he was for 19 years of Railroaders.
Kittrell will remain the school’s Athletic Director. He will still have a presence at Sparks. It just won’t be on the football field.
So enjoy the time off, Rob. You’ve earned it.
Getting the middle linebacker eligible is no longer your issue.
Nevada’s effort last two weeks will say a lot
This season quickly spiraled out of control for the Wolf Pack.
It fell to 3-7, 1-5 after getting dominated by San Diego State at home on Saturday night, 46-16. The fourth consecutive defeat eliminated Nevada from bowl contention.
Despite the overall strength of the Mountain West (or lack thereof), the pieces returning on offense, a new offensive coordinator and a strong returning secondary, to name a few reasons for preseason optimism, the team never found its footing.
The offense was one of the conference’s lowest-scoring for much of the season, but the leaky run defense wears much of the burden. Nevada has been among the nation’s worst teams in stopping the run.
It’s already hard enough to win college football games struggling against the run, but in a run-heavy conference like the Mountain West, winning becomes increasingly unlikely.
So what now?
Nevada closes out the home schedule Saturday afternoon against an also-struggling Utah State team then will try to repaint the Fremont Cannon the following Saturday in Las Vegas. The Rebels provided arguably the conference’s upset of the season on Saturday, besting previously unbeaten, Wyoming, 69-66 in triple overtime. Hope you had the over.
There will not be bowl game this year (likely for either team unless UNLV pulls off another upset this week at No. 22 Boise State), so chalk up the UNLV game as a postseason contest.
Has this season been a disappointment? Absolutely. Was it a failure? That’s to be determined.
If Nevada can rally and take care of business against the Aggies on Saturday, then go to UNLV and bring the Cannon back, ending the season on a two-game winning streak, things won’t seem so bad.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Ty Gangi appears to be the quarterback of the future and the defense, although embattled this year, will return nearly everyone. There’s your way-too-early 2017 season preview.
However, if the Pack folds up shop in the final two games, ending the year at 3-9 and on a six-game losing streak, it’s going to be an even longer offseason.
The next two weeks will say a lot about the character in the Wolf Pack’s locker room.
Are you ready for some … basketball?
For the most part, the prep fall sports are over. The soccer and volleyball state championships were played over the weekend, with one local team winning a state title.
The Sparks boys soccer team won the final game of its season for the first time since 2011, besting Western in the title game on Saturday morning in Las Vegas, 2-0. The win ended a drought of four-straight state tournament appearances that ended with losses.
The 4A prep football season has three weeks remaining with the regional championships on Friday followed by the 4A state semifinals the following the week. The Reed-Damonte Ranch winner will remain in Northern Nevada for next week’s semis against the Sunrise Region champ, likely Liberty.
So it’s pretty much on to basketball season. Prep practices officially started on Saturday and games will already begin next week. The ever-anticipated Sparks Tribune Prep Hoops Preview section comes out next Tuesday.
Don’t miss out.
Nathan can be reached via email at email@example.com. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning.