Beatty High School got what it wanted with this year’s Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association realignment, but it came at the cost of giving up an annual game with Tonopah.
“We won’t be playing our big rivals,” said Leo Verzilli, the school’s athletic director and football coach. “We won’t have our rivalry game against Tonopah. By the time I got my schedule and tried to get a game up there in Tonopah, we couldn’t get anything matched up. I figured that’s what was going to happen.
“We’ll try to get on it as early as possible next year and try to keep ourselves playing each other from year to year.”
That would please people at both schools. Each school is happy with its alignment as Class 1A was expanded from two leagues to four, Beatty remaining in the South and Tonopah going to the new Central League. But losing the natural rivalry was disappointing on both sides.
“The one thing we’re bummed about is we’re not able to play Beatty,” said former Tonopah athletic director Steve Stringer, also an assistant football coach for the Muckers. “Beatty and Round Mountain have always been our cross-town rivals, if you will.
“I talked to Leo, and we still wanted to plan something, but after he got his league schedule and I got my league schedule, he said they didn’t have any room.”
Verzilli would like to keep Tonopah on the schedule, but staying in the South was too important for Beatty because of the travel.
“The NIAA was pushing Beatty to be part of the Central, and they resisted it pretty hard,” Stringer said. “They were just looking at the travel, and it was going to add a lot more travel for them. For instance, Oasis Academy and Fallon would be in the league for volleyball and basketball, and that would be a six- or seven-hour bus ride for them. When you figure in a bus ride to like Sandy Valley or Beaver Dam for Beatty, it’s a good three hours closer round-trip.”
That was why Verzilli was relieved to stay in the South, where the bus rides are long enough for the Hornets.
“We didn’t have a problem going as far as Round Mountain, but the rest of that league is up and beyond that,” he said. “I don’t even schedule games beyond Round Mountain. It’s quicker for us to go to California — Big Pine, Lone Pine, Trona. It’s bad enough the way it is now where you have to arrive at a destination at three in the afternoon because we schedule volleyball and football the same night. So now we sit around for four hours before we actually play.
“It’s hard on the kids. They get sluggish, they get uncomfortable, they don’t know what to do with themselves, and all of a sudden they have to turn it on.”
It’s not only hard on the players called upon to play a game, it makes school more difficult as well.
“Football you’re always going to play on a Friday night, so if you’re up late you can be forgiven for that,” Verzilli said. “But during the week it gets pretty sticky. Basketball season you usually play on a Tuesday and Friday, and those Tuesday games you’re missing a half a day of school to get there and busting your butt trying to get home by midnight.
“All credit goes to those kids. They don’t miss school the next day. Our kids are really great at being in school the next day, and it’s asking an awful lot of them. A lot of our kids are doing their homework on the bus on the way up because there’s daylight.”
Along with Tonopah, Round Mountain will move to the Central League, leaving Beaver Dam, Indian Springs, Spring Mountain, Pahranagat Valley and newcomer Green Valley Christian with Beatty in the Southern League. For sports other than football, Liberty Baptist, Sandy Valley and Word of Life are also in the division.
“Baseball is probably the worst,” Verzilli said. “Everything is so far away you miss complete days of school. In our league, you’re usually playing a doubleheader since you made that long trip. Everything is three or four hours away except maybe Indian Springs.”
This year, the top two teams in each of the four Class 1A leagues will make the football playoffs. The top two teams from the Central will face the top two teams from the South in the opening round, while the top two from the new East and West leagues will square off.
The Hornets have finished third in the Southern League in three of the past four years, including last year, when they reached the playoffs after a 4-2 league season.
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