There are lots of familiar faces in the playoffs this year, but last season's runner-up in the 2A is no where to be found. That's because Yerington had to cancel its varsity football season earlier this year when the school didn't have enough players.
Last year at this time, Yerington was enjoying a great run through the 2A and now here they are in the 3A, without a team.
Friday nights in Yerington have a different feel than they did a year ago.
"Our varsity football team kind of got cut back," said Caitlyn Odell, a Yerington graduate. "Now we just hang out at random places like Terrible's."
Last season, the fans and students packed Yerington football games, but this year, the bleachers are empty and the competition has moved over to a nearby parking lot, where former players were throwing around a football.
It wasn't supposed to be this way for a team that fell one game short of a state title last season. The NIAA moved the Lions up to the 3A this year, because the school had more than 460 students, two years in a row. The problem is that Yerington only has 444 students this year and they were going up against some schools with more than a thousand. It didn't take long for the war of attrition to take its toll.
"Most of our players were getting hurt," said Paco Escalante, a Lions senior. "We just didn't want to get everyone else hurt."
In their final game against Fernley in September, Yerington was down to just 14 players, about half as many as other teams. The Lions met after a 62-7 loss to the Vaqueros and reluctantly decided to forfeit the rest of the season. Varsity players could still suit up for the JV team, except for seniors like Escalante who had to call it quits.
"I can't speak for all of the seniors," said Escalante. "But for me, having my season cut short. I'm pretty much done."
For the rest of the players, all eyes are on playing next season, even if they don't know which division it will be in. And as far as players from last year are concerned, this season's team has nothing to be ashamed of.
"I mean, if you don't have enough kids to play football, it's kind of pointless," said Jacob Monahan a halfback and linebacker from last year's team. "And if you're getting most of your team hurt, it's not that safe. You can get someone hurt pretty badly out there."
Yerington High School will have a board meeting next Tuesday to talk about which division the school will play in next year.
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