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Encore Presentations: Sp. Springs, Sparks return to the gridiron in hopes of shaking off Week 1 losses
by Dan Eckles
Sep 01, 2011 | 1178 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs football coach Scott Hare talks with back-up quarterback Blake Nauman during a recent Cougars’ workout.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs football coach Scott Hare talks with back-up quarterback Blake Nauman during a recent Cougars’ workout.
The opening slate of Nevada’s high school football season came and went last weekend and none of the Rail City’s three prep programs took away what they were looking for — a win.

Despite defeat, the trio of local coaches all feel like their squads learned some valuable lessons in Week 1. Here’s a quick rundown of what each local club has going tonight in Week 2.

- North Valleys at Spanish Springs, 7 p.m. -

•Spanish Springs had the toughest test of any northern Nevada school on opening night as it traveled to suburban Sacramento to face Del Oro, ranked among the top 100 schools nationally. The result wasn’t pretty for SSHS fans as Del Oro scored on its first seven possessions of the game and rolled to a 55-14 romp over the Cougars last Friday.

While Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare was far from pleased with his team’s five turnovers or horrendous special teams play, he’d still schedule the game against Del Oro all over if he had to. He said his Cougars club understands the position it’s in and is bouncing back in fine fashion.

“Saturday went really well,” Hare said. “We brought the kids in, watched film and ran them around a little bit. Outside of being sore, I thought their spirits were pretty good. It’s hard not to recognize the speed of the game we saw like we did. I think we learned a lot from it.”

Spanish Springs (0-1) now meets its natural rival, North Valleys (1-0), the other Washoe County school that also opened its doors the same year as SSHS, 2001. Hare has the task of telling his team to respect North Valleys but also understand it is not Del Oro.

“We’ve had good practices this week,” Hare said. “You have to respect everyone and fear no one. You just have to respect every opponent whether you’re playing somebody who is really good, somebody even with you or somebody not as good as you. Whether they are better or worse than you should not matter.”

The SSHS offense showed flashes of brilliance against Del Oro and moved the ball well at times, but many of its positives were overshadowed by five turnovers. Additionally, the Cougars defense and special teams units got ran by like they were stuck in the mud.

Hare knows those areas must be cleaned up if his club is to find the win column tonight.

“We have a whole new kickoff team. We’ll find guys that want to get down the field. We can’t let a team start three drives inside of our 20 and we can’t turn the ball over five times. You can’t do that against anybody,” Hare said.

“Defensively, we’ve got to understand our assignments. We’re asking every single guy to do the right thing. Last week, we had eight of 11 or nine of 11. You can’t play that way. If one guy doesn’t do the right thing, the play is gone.”

In recent seasons, North Valleys has boasted a pass-happy offense. The Panthers will still sling it around plenty, but Hare expects a few more runs this time around.

“They’ll definitely put it in the air, chuck it and throw it around a lot, but they’re running the ball a little bit more than in the past,” Hare said. “They won last week and lost to us in Week 1 in overtime last year. They’ll be prepared very well for this game. They’ll have it circled on their calendar.”

- Spring Creek at Sparks, 7:30 p.m. -

•Sparks is coming off a heart-breaking 25-24 home loss to Yerington in its opener last week. But there is no time wallow in self pity. The Railroaders (0-1) have to shake off the sting of the narrow defeat and gear up for their 3A North League debut, tonight at home against Spring Creek (0-0).

The eastern Nevada foe is one Sparks coaches are very familiar with.

“They have gone back to their traditional offense out of the ‘I.’ They had gotten away from it the last couple of years, but when they ran that in the past, they always executed at a high level,” Sparks coach Rob Kittrell said. “They’ll want to run the ball and pick their spots to throw it. Defensively, they do a pretty good of getting everybody to the football. They are pretty disciplined.”

Against Yerington, Sparks did a good job of racking up yardage but failed to turn yards into points. The SHS gridders had three drives stall out in the red zone. Kittrell said that cannot become a trend and he made red zone offense a focus in practice this week.

“We worked on some things. So, hopefully, when we get in there, we can put the ball in the end zone,” Kittrell said. “I can take responsibility for that. I made some decisions that I’d make differently. I have to get out of my philosophy that I always go for six. We’ve got two capable kickers. If we can’t get six, we’ve got to put three on the board.”

While Sparks has a game under its belt, Spring Creek will be making its season debut under the lights tonight. Kittrell hopes that turns into an advantage for his team, but he also knows Spring Creek will be riding an emotional high for its first game.

“Last year, it was the same situation in the game out there,” Kittrell said. “They came out fired up and ready to go. We looked like a team that just got off the bus after a four-hour ride until we eventually made some big plays. Intensity wise, I think they’ll be fired up and ready to go. We’ve got to match that.”

- Reed bye week -

•One week after getting up for a big season opener against a tough California foe, Reed now has to pump the breaks and ride out a Week 2 bye. Still, Raiders coach Ernie Howren says it’s far from the end of the world.

“I really feel like we couldn’t ask for anything better, the way the schedule has set up,” Howren said. “Taking on a tough team like Granite Bay and then getting a bye week, it couldn’t come at a better time. Our kids have bought into that and we’ve had an outstanding week of practice.

“We came out of the game pretty healthy, but with the combination of double days, a hard scrimmage against Damonte Ranch and then playing a quality opponent, all those things added together got some kids beat up just from playing football. So with that said, the bye week comes at a great time.”

Reed is coming off an emotional 43-37 home loss to Granite Bay. The Raiders scored early and often, but cooled off as the game wore on and watched Granite Bay catch fire. Still, the Raiders had a late chance to steal a win before falling short.

“I learned our guys will fight,” Howren said. “They will play from the first whistle to the last whistle. I was proud of that … With the exception of the loss, we got everything out of the game we could possibly get. We didn’t get a ‘W’ in the win column, but as far as learning about us, what we can get better at and where we go from here, we got everything we needed out of that game.”

The Raiders coach said there is certainly no letdown in his team even though there’s no game at the end of the week.

“We had a night practice on Wednesday and it was one of our better practices of the season so far,” Howren said. “The kids were getting after each other. It was fun to watch.”

There is one advantage to having an off week while the rest of northern Nevada’s teams compete — his coaching staff actually has the opportunity to go watch another game live. He said that’s exactly what his coaches are planning on.”

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