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Sparks schools gearing up for Week 5 foes
by Aaron Retherford
Sep 19, 2012 | 2585 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs receiver Dallas Rohde (foreground) tries to haul in a catch during the Cougars’ Tuesday practice.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs receiver Dallas Rohde (foreground) tries to haul in a catch during the Cougars’ Tuesday practice.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs tailback CJ Carithers runs away from defenders during Cougars practice Tuesday. <I>Click on our BUY PHOTOS link to browse through our sports photo galleries</i>
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs tailback CJ Carithers runs away from defenders during Cougars practice Tuesday. Click on our BUY PHOTOS link to browse through our sports photo galleries
While Division I-A teams already have three league games under their belts, the big schools are in their final week of non-league contests.

Here is a preview of this week’s matchups involving Rail City teams.

Douglas Tigers (3-1) at Spanish Springs Cougars (3-1), 7 p.m.

Spanish Springs’ defense has looked solid so far this season, but it will face a big test Friday night when Douglas comes to town. The Tigers have had no trouble scoring this season, averaging over 46 points per game.

The final non-league game for both teams will feature two teams that like to spread it out on offense.

Douglas quarterback Michael Nolting is one of the North’s top signal callers. He has completed 76 percent of his passes (85-for-112) for 1,287 yards. He has 12 touchdowns to go with five interceptions. Statistically, Nolting’s best game was the season opener against Reno (21-for-25, 441 yards, 6 TD’s and 1 INT).

Nolting can also run the ball, averaging 65 yards on the ground per game. But that’s nothing compared to running back Connor Peterson, who is averaging twice that. Peterson has 532 yards on 92 carries and has found the end zone nine times. Dustan Fisher, Nolting’s favorite target, has a team-high 39 receptions and eight touchdown grabs.

“Douglas is really good. There’s definitely no doubt about that. Locally, they’re the best team that we will have played,” SSHS football coach Scott Hare said. “I think their record shows that. For them to have played Reno, McQueen and Reed, pretty much in a four-week span there. Not only are they 3-1, but it’s proven against some pretty good teams.

“They’re a very good and well-coached team. Obviously we’re going to have to make some stops on defense and put some points on the board on offense. They’ll be ready to play when they get here.”

The Cougars have their own quality quarterback in junior Hunter Fralick. Still, the Spanish Springs offense is far less productive than the Douglas offense. The Cougars average 328 yards of offense per game, while the Tigers accumulate 536 yards a game.

The key to Friday night’s game will be the defenses. Douglas has allowed 44, 35 and 54 points in its games versus expected playoff teams, beating Reno and McQueen but losing to Reed.

Don’t expect the Cougars to try to slow down things to prevent it from becoming a shootout.

“We’re not going to worry about their pace. We’re going to do what we need to do,” Hare said. “We feel very strongly that we trust our defense and what they do. Our offense and our pace was put in place for games like this. We worked really hard to get ourselves in shape and in condition. We don’t feel like we need to change what we’re doing for other teams. We’re going to try to dictate the pace on our side.”

Reed Raiders (2-2) at Carson Senators (3-1), Friday 7 p.m.

The last time these two teams met was during last year’s Northern 4A regional championship game when Reed spanked Carson 49-0.

Both programs lost a lot of their offensive weapons from a year ago, but through the first four weeks, the drop-off has been much greater for the Senators.

Carson has scored 90 of its 106 points in its two wins against struggling Hug and North Valleys squads. In its other two games, McQueen held it to three points and the Senators scored 13 in a 13-10 win over Reno.

“One thing we know is coach (Blair) Roman and his coaching staff have always done a great job of developing a program. It doesn’t matter who is there. They are still going to play hard and play fast. They‘re going to be physical,” Reed football coach Ernie Howren said of Carson. “I’m almost more impressed with this team than I was last season just because this team lost some studs from last year, and they’re still playing hard. I think that speaks volumes for what coach Roman is doing with his team.”

Since returning to northern Nevada action, Reed is again showing it’s the class of this area, putting up 96 points the past two weeks against Douglas and Bishop Manogue.

While Spanish Springs opens league play with Hug, Reed gets a test right off the bat in a game that could decide who earns the top seed out of the High Desert League. That’s why Friday night’s game against Carson is so important in getting ready for McQueen.

“At this point of the season, you definitely want to be on a roll, but I think there shouldn’t be any letdowns at this point,” Howren said. “We’re five games into it, been there, done that. You better know the schemes offensively and defensively. It’s time now to just come out and play football and have an attitude and an edge to you in every single game from here on out. There should be no surprises.”

Sparks Railroaders (0-4)

at Truckee Wolverines (3-0), Saturday 1:30 p.m.

It was only a matter of time before Sparks had to face one of the gridiron juggernauts of the Northern Division I-A. That time is Saturday.

The Railroaders will be making the trip west to face off against three-time defending state champion Truckee, a team that has dismantled Sparks by a combined score of 157-3 in the past three meetings.

While this isn’t the same Truckee squad that won all that hardware, these guys are still plenty good. The Wolverines have downed Lowry (27-7), Dayton (51-14) and Elko (35-0).

Truckee is also looking to improve its win streak to 40 games, the fifth longest active winning streak in the nation.

This also isn’t the same Sparks team as in years past. Despite only winning one game a year ago, the way things are going so far this fall has some fans feeling this year’s squad might not be able to match that win total. Through four games, the Railroaders have been outscored by a 229-28 margin.

However, Sparks showed some promise when it moved the ball against Fernley last week. The Maroon and Gold accumulated 300 yards of offense, but only had a fourth-quarter touchdown to show for it after turning the ball over twice inside the Vaqueros’ 25-yard line.

“No matter how good you are or how poorly you’re playing, Truckee is Truckee. They’re good and they’re going to hit you. They’re going to be fundamentally sound,” Sparks football coach Rob Kittrell said. “Watching them on film, it reminds you of what fundamentally sound football looks like.”

Sparks will have to try to slow a pretty balanced Wolverine offense led by a pair of quarterbacks.

Erik Holmer and Lowden Smith give Truckee a 1-2 punch. Holmer beats opponents with his legs, while Smith is the more accurate passer. Holmer is second on the team in rushing, racking up 159 yards on 27 carries. Smith has completed 13 of 16 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns.

Truckee also has a solid running back in Graham Christian, who is averaging over 13 yards per carry. Christian has run the ball 24 times for 315 yards and five touchdowns. He also leads the team with six receptions.

“They’re every bit as good as they’ve been in the past,” Kittrell said. “They’re fundamentally sound defensively. Offensively, they’re getting better every week. I’m glad we’re playing them earlier in the year rather than later in the year when the offense is hitting on all cylinders. They’re getting there.”
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