Plagued by an inexperienced roster, first-year Boulder City High School flag football coach Kevin Ruth said he’d like to stick to the basics this season in hopes of continuing the success of his predecessor, Chris Morelli.
“Coming into year one, I know Chris left me with a great foundation and I’m just hopeful to continue the great job he did,” Ruth said. “We’re going to have to replace a lot of key players from last season, but thankfully we have girls coming in that have been in our program the past few seasons. I have faith we’ll find a way to be successful.”
Forced to replace a handful of starters on the defensive end, including graduated jack-of-all-trades Kenadee Bailey, Ruth said the Lady Eagles will rely on what’s kept them successful the past few seasons: speed on the outside and containment.
“We’re pretty young on both sides of the ball, but defense especially,” Ruth said. “Replacing a star like Kenadee, who really anchored so much last season, is going to be really tough, but I’m confident that my returning starters can step it up and get the job done.”
Looking to wreak havoc on defense after promising junior seasons, seniors Nikki Meleo and Hannah Barth will anchor the Lady Eagles’ linebacking corps, the heart and soul of the team’s defense, Ruth said.
“Our defensive scheme is all about containing our opponents and keeping them from getting to the outside edge,” Ruth said. “I don’t think I could ask for a better duo than Nikki and Hannah to get the job done for us. They’re going to be our rock on defense.”
Meleo generated 80 tackles and a pair of sacks last season, while Barth tallied 77 tackles, four sacks and an interception.
Expected to play a large role on offense as well, Meleo figures to be the Lady Eagles’ starting running back this season, showing in practice the explosiveness needed for the position. As a junior she rushed for 320 yards and two touchdowns on 59 carries.
“Nikki is a gamer; she just wants to compete,” Ruth said. “She’s really shifty, explosive. We’re counting on her to be our next two-way star.”
Helping Meleo transition into a full-time role in the backfield will be senior quarterback Nicole Valle, who split time behind center last season with Taylor Tenney, who decided not to return to the team for her senior season.
“We have all the confidence in the world in Nicole to get the job done and be effective,” Ruth said. “She’s definitely an athlete and brings some experience to the position.”
Completing 88 of 146 attempts last season, Valle passed for an efficient 1,229 yards and 16 touchdowns with only two interceptions. With no passcatchers returning from last season, junior Ryann Reese figures to be the Lady Eagles’ go-to target early on.
Having started their season Wednesday against 4A Liberty, the Lady Eagles next will travel to the Patriots on Tuesday as part of their preseason double-header. With many new faces on the roster, Ruth said he is excited to see who his contributors will be early on.
“The preseason is really going to shape how our season turns out and who ends in starting roles,” Ruth said. “We have a lot of inexperienced talent on this team. We’re hopeful girls take advantage of their reps and become established starters.”
Contact Robert Vendettoli at BCRsports@gmail.com.
■ Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Liberty: 3:30 p.m. junior varsity; 4:30 p.m. varsity.
■ Wednesday, Dec. 6, vs. Bonanza: 4 p.m. junior varsity; 5 p.m. varsity.