By Vern Hee
It’s Verzilli ball time in Beatty. This year the Beatty high school football program will be headed by Leo Verzilli. Last year Verzilli left Pahrump and headed up north when Brian Hayes came down from Beatty to be the head basketball and baseball coach.
Verzilli was assistant football coach and head baseball coach for the Hornets last year. In his last year at Pahrump, Verzilli was the head football coach. In that year, he went winless for the Trojans, but in all fairness that is when the Trojans were in the 4-A Southwest League.
In Beatty, football is different. Besides being in a smaller division, division IV, the Hornets play in an eight-man football league and the field is reduced to an 80-yard by 40-yard field. Verzilli said it took him all last year to get used to the changes. This year will be his first time in eight-man football as the head coach.
Verzilli feels the dynamics of the game changes in eight man football.
“You lose three players. You lose a running back or a receiver and you lose two tackles on offense. You still have to have five men on the line of scrimmage,” said Verzilli.
As far as the strategy he feels that is the same.
Verzilli believes eight-man football in his league is just as serious as any other league.
“The kids are in shape. They are used to going both ways, so you find great athletes in eight-man football. The hitting is just as hard as in eleven-man. You will not find a tub of lard here in eight-man football,” he said.
On defense he had to change his thinking.
“You really can not have three deep. There is not a lot of zone coverage because you do not have the defensive backs. Everything comes down to man-on-man on defense. But your fronts can be the same as eleven man. That is the same,” remarked Verzilli.
Verzilli said that even in offense you can do some of the same things as if you had eleven men. “It’s the same thing. You can run an I formation, you can split your backs, you can run a spread, and you can run a double wing. You can do all those things but you find that you wish you had those extra guys back and then you realize on defense they don’t have the extra guys too,” said Verzilli.
Last year he said he would be an assistant because he was not sure of himself. “I figured that I would not know enough. I was afraid that I would not know enough and that I would not do them any good. Then after a few weeks you realize it is the same game. It is pretty much the same thing,” he said.
Verzilli said the major difference between the eight-man and eleven-man is the way the game is played. He feels the game is quicker with eight-man. “The game is more run laden. Unless you have a really good quarterback and some good receivers it is a run laden game. You try to make the edge and the corner. Once you beat that linebacker there is really only the one safety. You beat the linebackers you just have the one guy to beat. Everything is set for quick pop, try to get the hole or get that crack and get around the end,” Verzilli said.
With the running game, Verzilli said the numbers that Tonopah posted against Whittell, two weeks ago are not uncommon. During that game, Tonopah had 600 yards of offense, with 400 yards rushing.
“400 yards rushing is common. When Alamo gets up here wait till you see those numbers, holy smokes, they are the Bishop Gorman of eight-man football,” commented Verzilli.
Verzilli said that he got off to a slow start this year because most of the kids on the team live in Amargosa Valley and could not drive to practices during the summer. He said now the team is up and running and is ready to play football. “We started out slow and only had 13 kids. We picked up a few more and are now up to 16. I feel better now because you have to have 12 to play,” said Verzilli.
Jake Zamora is a junior and will be the starting quarterback for the Hornets. Freddie Costanzo, Luis Flores and Nick Soto will be the running backs. All these players are returning and have experience. Zamora has played quarterback for the past two years. This will be his third year.
“Zamora is a lot smarter. He can read the defense better. He also delivers the ball much faster. This year our offense will go with split backs and a single wing and we will not be doing the option for that takes too long. We will pass more this year. It should be a 60 percent run and 40 percent fast. We would like to go to West Coast offense. You will see a little more pass this year,” Verzilli said.
Verzilli said this year the passes will be quick passes as opposed the longer ones because he feels he does not have the talent in receiving to get under a 30-yard pass. Levi Reed and Chris Dunlap will be the two receivers this year. Verzilli likes them because they are both over six feet tall.
As far as defense, Verzilli will go with the four-three defense. His lead defensive man will be Soto and Zamora. Zamora will be the defensive back.
He expects the Round Mountain team will be a tough match. “This Round Mountain team will be a tough test because they are well coached. It should be a good game right out of the box,” commented Verzilli.
The first game of the season will be this Friday Sept. 7 at Beatty against Round Mountain at 7 p.m.
Beatty Hornet Roster
3 Jake Zamora Jr QB
14 Freddie Costanzo Jr RB
15 Luis Florez So RB
18 Levy Reed Sr OL
22 Josh Hopper Fr RB
30 Nick Soto Sr RB
34 Fortino Gonzalaz Sr OL
66 Brandon Cross So OL
69 Alex Robles Sr OL
72 Daniel Jacob Fr OL
75 Elias Olivia So OL
81 Joel Avila Sr OL
88 Chris Dunlap Sr OL
90 Lorenzo Pinon So OL
Brenden Delee Jr OL