It’s no surprise Reed is good. It might be a surprise that Reed is this good. Since falling 41-37 on Opening Night to Sacramento-area power Granite Bay, Reed has not lost. In fact, the Raiders have not even been challenged.
The Raiders have racked up 567 points this season and given up just 167. That’s an average score of 51-15. Reed blew out fellow Northern 4A rival and powerhouse McQueen 40-6 earlier this season. Reed’s closest game, since the loss in its season debut, was a 47-30 romp over Douglas.
Reed will host Douglas tonight at 7 p.m. in a Northern 4A regional semifinal playoff. The only in-state foe to score more against the Reed defense was Spanish Springs when it hung 32 on the Raiders two weeks ago.
Still, Reed got off to a 34-3 lead in that initial encounter against Douglas and was never really threatened.
“We got blitzed,” Douglas head coach Mike Rippee said in his postgame interview after the lopsided preseason affair. “They were well prepared. They played better than us. They out-coached us, at least defensively. That’s a good football team. We’ve got a long way to go to play in that type of class.”
Given Reed and Douglas last met on Sept. 9, how much can Raiders coaches take away from the early season game film?
“You always get an idea of how teams want to defend you or what they want to do against you defensively by watching film, no matter if it’s from the beginning, middle or end of the season,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “Even when you play a team the next year, you go back and look at film from the previous year to see what a coach’s philosophy is against you.”
So how was Douglas able to score so successfully on what has been a usually stingy Reed defense?
“Defensively, we’ve gone back to the first game and looked at the mistakes we made and things they took advantage of,” Howren said. “We want to correct our mistakes and maybe look at some different ways to defend some plays. There are things we feel we can work on and we can add a few wrinkles here and there.
“Both teams have definitely gotten better. I know our defense plays with a chip on its holder. They’ve watched that game film and they’re not happy. It’s a pride thing to them.”
Douglas is playing its best football of the season at the right time. The Tigers started the season 2-4, but have won five straight games. The DHS gridders took the No.5 seed into the regional playoffs and rolled over No. 4 seed Reno, 43-15, on the Huskies’ home field seven days go.
“I don’t really look at the seeding part of it, but Douglas is playing with a lot of confidence. They’re are playing physical, fast football,” Howren said.
“Offensively, Douglas has a corps. of receivers that is as good as anybody. They are tall, athletic, fast kids and each one has big-play potential. You have to contain those kids. They’re the reason the quarterback is playing so well. And then obviously the other thing is their running back. He’s a workhorse. He takes the pressure off their passing game.”
Reed went through one four-week stretch where it gave up eight points, but it’s given up 48 in its last two games, both against Spanish Springs. You can bet Douglas coaches have taken notes on a few things the Cougars have done to loosen up the RHS defensive unit.
Howren said his team must maintain the focus its had all season, but also admitted that during the postseason the intensity level must rise too.
“We talk to the kids about that,” Howren said. “Coach Callahan on our staff couldn’t have said it better when he said, ‘keep doing what we’ve been doing all year long, but turn it up another notch.’ That’s all we’re asking of the kids, just play the same tough-nosed type of football we’ve been playing all year and turn up the intensity one more notch.”