A week later, Spanish Springs has a back-up plan for a venue and a willing opponent.
Prep football programs across the region were forced to look for alternative game sites last week after the NIAA, the state's governing body for prep sports, prohibited schools from playing in a six-county area that was infested with smoky skies and poor air quality. The NIAA again canceled all high school athletic contests in the region Tuesday and Wednesday. Events did get the green light Thursday. However, with the unpredictable smoke conditions day-to-day, local athletic officials were hopeful to play Friday's games at their scheduled sites, but many admitted they had no guarantees that would happen.
Spanish Springs football is scheduled to host Damonte Ranch Friday night at 7 p.m., but if poor air quality returns to the region Friday, the game will be played at Pershing County High School in Lovelock at 4 p.m. Dayton and Spring Creek will also play at Lovelock, at 7 p.m., if needed.
"Right now we're ready to go," Spanish Springs athletic director Art Anderson said. "We've got a bus on standby for a 1 p.m. departure to Lovelock if we need it. We preferred the earlier gametime. We thought it would get us out there, get the game in and get us home quicker.
"Our main objective is to get a football game in. We're going to make every effort we can to get the game played. And the Lovelock administration has been great in working with us."
Pershing County principal and athletic director Russell Fecht worked with Hug and Carson when the two schools asked to play there last weekend. He said it was a no-brainer to those who called about a back-up plan for Week 2.
"We've tried very hard to take our membership in the NIAA very seriously," said Fecht, who is in his eighth year holding his dual roles at PCHS. "We've always felt, if we have the opportunity to help each other, that's why you're part of the league membership. No matter the level, you help and your hope is maybe people will help us when we need it."
Damonte Ranch did get its season opener in last weekend after Lowry High in Winnmeucca allowed the DRHS gridders and North Valleys to play in Humboldt County on Saturday. First-year Damonte AD Jeff Thiede was ecstatic to work with Anderson, who was proactive, as early as last week, in making sure the Week 2 matchup between the two schools could go off with a hitch.
"Art's been awesome, easy to work with," Theide said. "On top of that, since last week, he's been looking forward to this week. It's been great.
"It was nice for us to get on a field and get our game in last week, knowing full well what Spanish Springs has to offer this week. It's just good to get these games in. Regardless of who you're playing. It's just different than playing your own squad. You want to try to work things out on the field to be successful. Getting the games in is definitely a huge benefit for us."
While the contingency plan is in place, Spanish Springs administrators and the football staff are optimistic the game can still be played on the SSHS campus Friday night.
"The smoky conditions have improved all week," Anderson said Thursday afternoon. "This is just a back-up plan that ensures we can play a game. I think we'll be able to play here tomorrow night.
"We need to play it here. We only have four home football games. If we lost the home game, we're losing a quarter of our budget. Football makes the majority of our income for the following year."
At Sparks, the Railroaders' football team was unable to play its season opener last week at Yerington. The SHS crew is set to host Elko Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Div. I-A North debut for both schools.
Veteran Sparks coach Rob Kittrell believes the game will go on as scheduled.
"All week the air quality level has dropped into safer ranges right about practice time," he said Thursday afternoon. "With that having happened and the forecast for a low-pressure system, we should be good to go tomorrow. I felt confident in that yesterday, when we told Elko's freshmen to head on down here today. It's worked out good so far."
While Kittrell thinks the game will get played at Sparks, he hasn't ignored the possibility of more smoke blowing in. He and Elko AD Lynette Davis have been in constant conversations this week.
"We've had so many contingency plans," Davis said. "We've looked at different scenarios and the only thing left, if we really have a problem, is to play the varsity game Saturday in Winnemucca. Right now we're operating under the plan the game will be played at Sparks."
Kittrell confirmed the two teams could play in Winnemucca Saturday at 3 p.m. in a last-case scenario.