Dust Devils set for season opener: River Valley travels across Colorado River to Needles to play Mustangs
MOHAVE VALLEY — Dust Devils first-year head coach Jonathan Clark described the student-athletes who will be key members and those who will be part of his team’s supporting cast this season as his squad is just a few hours away from the beginning of the 2018 season.
Clark said junior Seth Christy is the team’s quarterback and Christy’s backup is senior Evan Oehler.
“The O-line is panning out,” Clark said.
Junior 5-foot-9, 175-pound Jeremy Stice, who is small for a lineman but a “tough kid with quick feet,” Clark said. “Senior lineman Raymond Hernandez; 5-10, 205, has potential to be our best overall lineman and has really impressed me with his work ethic and toughness.”
Junior Seth Rettig, 5-foot-11, 277, is a new student-athlete, Clark said.
Senior lineman Francisco Walema, 6-foot-2, 295, is a “mountain of a man who can move,” Clark said. “If he gets his hands on you, it’s over.”
Freshman Micahel Dulin, 6-foot-2, 224, is a “great athlete,” and is more of a true tight end and will make that transition next year — if not this year at some point, Clark said.
Clark said senior lineman Jason Reese, 5-foot-11, 275; and Damon Parks, 6-foot, 226; are River Valley’s interior defensive linemen with Brenan Gladeau and senior Anthony Gorrell, 5-foot-11, 205, as the team’s defensive ends.
“We should be able to platoon our lineman, which will be huge,” he added.
Seniors, 5-foot-10, 164-pound Logan Knox; 5-foot-11, 166-pound Seth Solano; and 5-foot-11, 176-pound Cole Shott are expected to be a trio of go-to Dust Devils.
“Knox, Solano and Shott are our dudes for sure — and not necessarily in that order,” Clark said. “They will all play receiver.
“And it will be key that they pick each other up if one is having an off night. All three will need to contribute for us to be successful.”
Two-thirds of the above-mentioned trio will serve as the squad’s defensive duet.
“I believe we are more than ready for our first game and we are going in strong, hot, and heavy,” Shott said. “Our last practice before the game Thursday night, we had a nearly perfect practice.”
Shott and Solano will anchor the linebacker core with 5-foot-9, 166-pound junior Lance Vancil, who is “our jack-of-all trades,” Clark said. He runs almost every wide receiver position and linebacker position. Stice — and others — will be rotating through.
Solano said he is more than ready for the opening game.
“It’s my senior year and I’ve been preparing all year, along with my team,” Solano said. “We’re ready.”
Kayden Vancamp, 6-foot, 152-pound senior, is a “sleeper” that he’s hoping will have an “explosive” senior season. “Great speed and quickness paired with good hands — not afraid to hit you either,” Clark said.
“Sophomore Richard Vega and junior Isaac Miller are our running backs at the moment,” Clark said. “Solano will see some action in the backfield, as well. With those guys sharing the load, the hope is that Christy isn’t the leading rusher this season.”
The River Valley High School Dust Devils will play at 7:30 tonight against the Mustangs at Needles High School.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association 3A West Region River Valley team finished 3-7 overall, 2-3 in region under former interim head coach Chris Starkey, who took over after David Klassen stepped down after the first game last season.
PARENTS EARN PRAISE: “I’m excited,” Clark said. “I’ve got great kids,”
Clark said the parents have raised his Dust Devils well.
FANTASTIC FIVE: Clark said Walema, Vancil, Vancamp, Gorrell and Hernandez are seniors who will be on the field starting some capacity.
NUMBERS CONTINUE TO GROW: “We have new bodies coming out each week,” said Clark on Friday. “We got two more coming Monday, so our depth will continue to increase.
MUSICAL COACHES: “Kids were depleted from the headache of several different coaches in such a short time frame,” Clark said. “It’s taking a while, but they are coming back out.”
DON’T KNOW?: Clark said he knows very little about Needles.
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association 2A Southern League Needles’ squad finished 10-1 overall, 7-0 in League last season.
“I know they have a very shifty, quick running back and a solid lineman in Wilfong — the boys have spoken about him — but I know a lot of their players were seniors last year, so it will be interesting to see how they reload.
“I do know this: Nobody makes it to the semifinal playoff game by accident. They will be well coached and prepared to play football. We have to be, also.”