Spring Creek Spartans (1-1) at Sparks Railroaders (0-2), 7 p.m.
The Sparks High School football team opened its season full of excitement and hope. Unfortunately for the Railroaders, back-to-back losses of 58-21 to Yerington and 62-0 to Elko have Sparks still in search of its first win. With a long season ahead, Sparks coach Rob Kittrell remains optimistic.
“We’re getting better every day,” Kittrell said. “We’re focusing on coming off the ball better offensively. We need to be quicker off the ball. Defensively, we’re focusing on being physical and being sound in our assignments.”
On the slate this week for the Railroaders is a Nevada Northern Division I-A contest against Spring Creek, a team that has had similar production on the gridiron but has also managed to walk away with a win thus far.
The Spartans will also be looking to generate some offense as it has proven anemic in the early weeks. After winning its season opener 13-6 over West Wendover, Spring Creek is coming off of its own shutout as well, following a 22-0 loss at the hands of Dayton.
With two teams taking the field that have produced 34 points in a total of four games, Kittrell is expecting a close, low-scoring affair.
“I think both teams want to run the ball and control the clock,” Kittrell said. “Spring Creek always plays hard and runs the ball well. If you want to beat them, you have to stop their running game. Defensively, they’re always fundamentally sound and do a good job of doing their jobs. I would lean toward a lower scoring game, as long as we continue to improve defensively.”
While an old-fashioned grudge match is what the head ball coach at Sparks is presuming, his attention is not on the possible score of the game or the Spartans.
“We’re not focusing on opponents. We’re focusing on us getting better,” Kittrell said. “That has to be our main focus right now — us improving and getting every practice, every rep. Wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Douglas Tigers (2-0) at Reed Raiders (0-2), 7 p.m.
Looking to test itself against some of the top competition it could find, Reed scheduled a pair of contests against California squads to open its season. Now after two humbling losses, the Raiders are eager to see where they measure up against Nevada Northern Division I foes.
“The kids understand that this is a process that we’ve bought into as a program,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said of scheduling the tough road games. “We understand that we don’t like the position we’re in, but that doesn’t mean we’re just going to fold up. We’re going to come out and keep working hard in practice, and that’s what the kids are doing.”
Returning home from the road, the Raiders will not be greeted with an easy task as they host a team that is very reminiscent of itself and also a team that many believe to be a candidate to knock Reed off its throne.
While Reed has not gotten off to the start that it wanted, the Douglas Tigers have to be more than happy with how they have opened their season. After a 6-6 season last year in which long-time coach Mike Rippee announced his retirement, the Tigers are beginning a new era under first-year head coach Ernie Manfiletto. So far, so good as Douglas has come out victorious in a pair of shootouts to kick off its season and appear to be a Nevada Northern D-I power. A 56-44 win over Reno followed by a 42-35 victory against McQueen, the first over the Lancers in 26 years, have many turning their heads in the direction of the Tigers. Quarterback Michael Nolting has led the way for the Tigers, completing 81 percent of his passes (43-of-53) for 739 yards and seven touchdowns in the wins. A date with the reigning northern champion Raiders, who beat Douglas 47-30 last season, will tell a lot about both teams.
“Just based on what they do offensively and what we do offensively, I have a feeling you’re going to see quite a few offensive plays and you’re going to see an up-tempo game with both teams running the no-huddle,” Howren said. “We’re prepared for their no-huddle and their up-tempo style. Defensively, they fly around the field. They play fast on defense, too. We’re just really kind of preparing for the things that Douglas does well.”
While the contest between the two looks to be a high-scoring affair, Howren is maintaining his focus on his team and the holes it needs to fill in order to earn its first win of the young season.
“We have to execute, plain and simple,” Howren said. “Offensively, we need to score in the red zone and when we get on the goal line. Defensively, we just need to keep working to tackle. Those are probably the biggest things for us right now. We have got to get better if we expect to win any ball games this year.”
Spanish Springs Cougars (2-0) at Inderkum Tigers (1-0), 7 p.m.
The other D-I prep football squad in the Rail City will also be taking on the Tigers, but for Spanish Springs that means traveling to Sacramento, Calif. to face off against Inderkum High. It also means playing a squad that Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said his team does not know much about.
“I know they’re really, really fast. That’s about all we know about them,” Hare said. “They are a really fast Sacramento team and a fast Sacramento team equals a very fast football team.”
Fast could also be used to describe the Cougars, who have raced past both Bishop Manogue (58-21) and Damonte Ranch (34-14) to jump out to two straight victories. The impressive performances do not have Hare taking the game in California lightly though.
“I’d like to see us rally around a little bit of some of the stuff that we’re putting in this week,” Hare said. “It’s technically still our bye week when it comes to league play, so we’ve been putting in a couple wrinkles. I don’t think those are going to be at mid-season form yet, but I’d like to see us execute them the way we have been in practice.”
While Week 3 was initially intended to be Spanish Springs’ week off before heading into Nevada Northern play, Inderkum will not present a bye of any sort. The Tigers, who launched their season with a 45-8 victory, are coming off a 10-2 season which included a 30-20 win over Reno High.
“It’s going to be a quick game. It’s going to be a really quick game. To be successful, we’re going to have to rally up and we’re going to have to tackle when we get there because they’ve got three or four guys that are really quick,” Hare said. “We obviously were keying on Damonte’s running back Drew Smith last week, but Damonte had one guy. Inderkum has four guys that are just as fast, if not faster than Drew. This is really a key game in making sure our assignments are correct.”