Nevada Union football as finishing school? Who knew

Sports are said to offer numerous benefits to participants beyond the competitive aspects: Teamwork, self-discipline, sportsmanship, and a sense of belonging they might not get anywhere else.

In addition sports–football in particular–served as sort of a finishing school for those who spent the Fall running around Hooper Stadium the last five seasons, according to Nevada Union Athletic Director Jeff Dellis.

Dellis made the comments to The Union when head coach Dennis Houlihan announced he was resigning the position after five miserable years. “I think ultimately, Dennis is good for kids,” he said.

“He works with their best interest at heart and he was able to bring some respectability back to the program in regards to player behavior on the field and off the field. He expected his kids to be gentlemen.

“His kids were the ones sitting in the front of classrooms and engaged in class. They were holding doors open for teachers, and for all that I appreciate his efforts and the commitment he had to Nevada Union.”

Dellis was probably trying to be kind because Houlihan’s five-year tenure as the coach lacked praise-worthy moments. The Miners when 8-42 overall, didn’t win a game in the Sierra Foothill League, and couldn’t even find many pigeons to beat at home, going 2-24 at Hooper. (The other boys teams were only slightly more competitive in the SFL.)

But there’s a solution to that, and another lesson student athletes can learn if they pay attention. Tired of getting beat up by the big boys in the area, NU is dropping down two levels to Division 3, where it will play teams like Placer and Lincoln, two schools it actually beat in the last couple of years.

To get their enrollment down to a level that will allow them to play in Division 3, the Miners cancelled a multi-school sports agreement that allowed students at Ghidotti Early College High School to compete on NU’s teams. Starting next school year, Ghidotti freshmen will have to look elsewhere if they want to play organized sports.

NU entered into the agreement in 2009. Now that the Miners want to move down two divisions to play at a level where they can win, the Ghidotti students are excess baggage.

You can bet the school wouldn’t be doing this if it was competitive in the Sierra Foothill League. But hey, kids, that’s the way it works in a world where adult egos are tethered to the fortunes of high school sports teams.

THE NEXT COACH: Presumably Dave Humphers won’t return as coach of the team–he was the head man when player behavior issues on and off the field apparently became a problem. And NU shouldn’t hire another coach who embraces the Wing T, an attribute in the thinking of the NU principal at the time Houlihan was hired.

No, they need a coach who embraces 21st Century football–passing the ball, a lot. Successful pass-centric offenses are easy to install, and you don’t need a reincarnation of Joe Montana to make them work. The run game may be simpler to coach, but it plays a secondary role in today’s football world.

While NU is in the process of retooling its program, it may want to expand its recruiting territory to Reno. It seems to have worked well for Folsom High School.

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