Real Blue and Gold fans know its been all about the defense for years now. Defense wins championships.
It all started back in 2004 when the Raiders unexpectedly took down the McQueen juggernaut in the regional championship game. Reed had a solid defense that season, which mainly went ignored due to offensive stars like running back Ryan Lammle and quarterback Zack May, despite allowing more than 16 points in only three of its 14 games that season.
During the regular season, the Lancers torched the Raiders for 33 points in a lopsided win at the east Sparks school. So when Reed went to the northwest Reno school and stuffed them for only 14 points to win the North crown, it was a coming out party for the defense. It’s been stifling teams ever since.
It helps when Reed has players like senior linebacker Broc Westlake flying around the field.
Westlake was part of last year’s defense that carried Reed throughout the season when the offense wasn’t as consistent as years past.
Last fall, the defense allowed less than 16 points per game against northern Nevada opponents and that included a 41-14 shellacking at the hands of Bishop Manogue. Not including that game, Reed gave up less than two touchdowns a contest.
Westlake was a big part of that during his junior campaign as he earned first team all-North recognition at linebacker. Westlake led the team with 105 total tackles, including 15 for loss and three forced fumbles for a first team nod.
He’s back at it again this season.
“It’s truly like having another set of coaching eyes on the field,” Reed football coach Ernie Howren said. “For example, twice this season he called a timeout when it needed to be called based on the misalignment of our special teams. He just understands everything. You say it once and it’s committed to memory. It’s not just regurgitated back to you. It’s processed, and he understands why and when a situation would dictate a certain play call.”
Not only does Reed’s defense shut down opponents, as can be seen by McQueen only scoring six points in Friday night’s lmeeting, but the defense puts points on the scoreboard as well when the offense might not be clicking.
Spencer Empey recovered a fumble following a near sack and returned it for a touchdown. The special teams scored 13 points thanks to a pair of field goals by A.J. Silva and a blocked field goal, which was returned by Austin Polli for a TD. Those scores were all the Raiders needed because the Lancers couldn’t get anything going offensively. Reed owned the trenches, holding McQueen to three yards per rushing attempt.
“It’s just a good day for the defense to hold a team to only six points,” Westlake said. “We were just flying around having a good time. It’s always a big game for us playing McQueen because they’re our rival.”
Westlake is part of Raiders history. This group has never lost to McQueen in football.
Westlake is also a state champion wrestler after winning the 189-pound weight class last winter.
“Both sports are super competitive, and you have to come out with the mindset that you have to take it to them and not be passive,” Westlake said.
Westlake said he hopes to compete in either sport in college. He doesn’t care which one. He has been in communication with Nevada, Brown and Northern Arizona.
Westlake would like to pursue a career in athletics like physical therapy, coaching or training.
“He brings the discipline that you would ask of any young man whether if he’s playing sports or he’s a student,” Howren said. “He understands what it takes to get things done. The attention to detail, whether it be in the classroom or on the field, he understands that.”
For now, the Raider field general’s goals are to win league, regionals and state. It’s still early, but Reed is off to a good start, winning its first two league games by a combined 105-6 margin. The Raiders are home versus North Valleys Friday night at 7:30 p.m.