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All-time Northern Nevada high school football team (offense)

JoJo Townsell
JoJo Townsell was a star at Hug High before going on to UCLA and the NFL. (Rick Stewart/Allsport via Getty)

This week would have marked the start of the high school football season but fall sports have been pushed to March due to COVID-19. As a result, we won't get to cover high school football in the coming months, but I have substituted that lack of coverage with this piece: a look at Northern Nevada's all-time high school football team. We'll start with the all-offensive team, a list of players who called Northern Nevada home during their high school years. On Friday, we'll look at the area's all-defensive team. Of note: Each player's entire playing career was considered, so high school stars who didn't play in college didn't have much of a chance to make the list. And making it to the NFL also was weighed in the decision-making process.

Northern Nevada's all-prep football offense

QB: Glenn Carano, Wooster: This spot came down to Carano, Jeff Rowe, Jeff Dankworth, Bart Hendricks and Cade McNamara, but we must give the nod to Carano, the Wooster High star who starred at UNLV before logging seven NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Carano remains the only local quarterback to throw a pass in an NFL game. He appeared in 36 games with one start and completed 21-of-57 passes for 304 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He won a Super Bowl his rookie season. Backup: Jeff Rowe, McQueen

RB: Anthony Corley, Hug: Corley is the only local running back to make it to the NFL unless you count Lowry's Jace Billingsley, who was a wide receiver in the pros. Corley was a star for the Hug Hawks before playing in college at Nevada where he led the Wolf Pack in rushing in 1982 with 1,198 yards and six touchdowns. His NFL career was a two-year stay as he played for the Steelers in 1984 and the Chargers in 1985. He had 18 rushes for 89 yards (good for 4.9 yards per carry) in 18 games in the league. Backup: Jace Billingsley, Lowry

RB: Chance Kretschmer, Tonopah: We're stretching things by calling Tonopah a "north" team, but there's a relative dearth of options at running back, a position the area has struggled most to produce high-level talent. Kretschmer's 5,021 rushing yards at Tonopah rank sixth in state history (first in the Class 2A). He ran for 2,047 yards in only 10 games in 1998 before walking on at Nevada where he led the nation in rushing in 2000 with 1,732 yards and 15 touchdowns. A torn ACL derailed a potential NFL career. Backup: Jim Bailey, Churchill County

FB: Moa Peaua, McQueen: Nobody really stars at fullback in high school. If they're that good, they usually play running back. So our "fullbacks" are a little fudged as Moa Peaua was an excellent linebacker/tight end in high school and Parker Houston was a tight end/H-back. Peaua gets the top line. He was a Northern 4A two-time defensive player of the year and the 1997 Gatorade Player of the Year when he led McQueen to a state title. Peaua played his college ball at BYU, where he was a full back for 15 games. Backup: Parker Houston, Reed

WR: JoJo Townsell, Hug: Townsell was one of the first local stars to be good enough to play for a Pac-12 team out of high school. The former Hug Hawk caught 100 passes for 1,773 yards and 20 touchdowns at UCLA from 1979-82 before being a third-round pick (78th overall) by the Jets in the 1983 draft. Townsell logged a six-year NFL career, catching 70 passes for 1,119 yards and five touchdowns while being a standout returnman (20.9 yards per kick return; 10.7 yards per punt return; three return touchdowns). Backup: Dan Plater, Reno

WR: Brandon Aiyuk, McQueen: One of two active members of our all-offense team, Aiyuk will soon make his NFL debut after being only the second local player to be a first-round NFL draft pick. Aiyuk didn't even play high school football his junior season and had to go to junior college after his senior campaign due to grades. After two strong seasons at Arizona State, the 49ers traded up in this year's draft to select Aiyuk, who should become just the second local high school player to catch a ball in a regular-season NFL game. Backup: Devin Gray, Reed

TE: Ted Popson, Truckee: Truckee's 12 state championships rank seventh among Nevada schools, and Popson is the Wolverines' lone NFL player. His path to the league was no easy feat. He played for Portland State before being an 11th-round draft pick in 1991. After failing to make the Giants' roster in 1991, he played for the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football before a five-year run with the Chiefs and 49ers. A Super Bowl champion, Popson caught 103 balls for 980 yards and eight touchdowns. Backup: Trevor Molini, Reed

OL: Austin Corbett, Reed: Corbett's high school career at Reed was marred by injuries. Combine that with his inability to put on weight during his teenage years and he was forced to recruit himself to Nevada as a walk-on. His diligence paid off as Corbett developed into a four-year starter in college who was a two-time All-Mountain West honoree. He went on to be the 33rd pick of the 2018 NFL draft and is entering his third season in the league and second with the Los Angeles Rams, which traded for him last season. Backup: Kyle Roberts, Reed

OL: Harvey Dahl, Churchill County: Considered one of the NFL's nastiest players when he was in the league (and that was largely meant as a compliment), Dahl was a star football player and wrestler for the Churchill County Greenwave before starting four years at Nevada, which enshrined him into its Hall of Fame in 2016. Undrafted, Dahl played in NFL Europe before cracking into the NFL. He played eight seasons in the league with 82 starts and was good enough to earn some All-Pro votes during his career. Backup: Jeff Nady, Douglas

OL: Eric Sanders, Wooster: No local player had a longer NFL career than Sanders but his career almost ended in college. A Wooster High star, Sanders quit football after his freshman year at Nevada to drive a truck delivering Coca-Cola products. As part of his job, he delivered Coke to the Nevada football offices. Coach Chris Ault set Sanders up with his secretary, Irene, on a blind date to try and get her to talk him into returning to football. Not only did she do that, but they ended up getting married. After a great Wolf Pack career, Sanders was a fifth-round draft pick who played 12 NFL seasons (158 games, 42 starts). Backup: Todd Wilcks, Douglas

OL: Don Talcott, Reno: The oldest member of our starting 11, Talcott was born in 1921 in nearby Grass Valley, Calif., and moved to Reno where he played for the Huskies' well-known coach Herb Foster (he also was a great skier). Talcott then played for Jim Aiken at Nevada. He was the area's first NFL player after being a 27th-round pick by the Eagles in 1945. He also played for the Steelers and in the CFL. Talcott tragically died at age 33 while working for Wells Cargo trucking in Reno when bolts on a heavy boom sheared off and struck him. Backup: Ty Roemer, Fernley

OL: Don Manoukian, Reno: Manoukian moved to Reno at age 16 and was a two-time high school All-American who was recruited to Stanford. After a great college career, he was invited to the East-West Shrine game in 1957 and was the game's Outstanding Lineman. Manoukian was a member of the first Oakland Raiders team, making the squad in 1960, and was named second-team All-AFL left guard before retiring after one season to pursue a more financially lucrative career in professional wrestling. Backup: Jeff Cavender, Elko

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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