Here’s a closer look at those Week 4 matchups.
Reed Raiders (1-2) at Bishop Manogue Miners (1-2), Friday 7 p.m.
If there’s one team that historically gives Reed fits when on paper it doesn’t look like it should, it is the Bishop Manogue Miners.
It will be hard pressed to find someone who thinks Manogue will provide a challenge for the Blue and Gold this week based on the outcomes of the Miners’ first three games.
Manogue opened the season with a 37-point loss to Spanish Springs. The Miners then followed that up with their only win of the season, escaping with a 28-21 victory over Hug. But last week they fell to North Valleys, 55-48. Hug and North Valleys are not expected to qualify for the postseason out of the High Desert League.
Still, Reed coach Ernie Howren is weary of the Miners.
“I expect them to be flying around like we see on film,” Howren said. “Things have not gone their way, but it’s more of a program that the ball hasn’t bounced their way. They do play hard, and do a lot of different things defensively to create mismatches.”
Even last year when Reed dominated northern Nevada opponents, Manogue was one of two opponents that scored more than a touchdown against the Raiders during the league season, putting up 27 points.
In their most recent performance, the Miners have shown they can light up the scoreboard. Quarterback MJ Farthing threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns, while running back Juan Aparicio racked up 99 yards on 19 carries.
“There’s no doubt they have some weapons. They have a strong solid quarterback. He’s got some receivers he can throw the ball to and a really big tight end,” Howren said.
Spanish Springs Cougars (2-1) at Galena Grizzlies (2-1), Friday 7:30 p.m.
One of these teams will come away with a win and the other will be saddled with a second straight loss.
Prospects look more promising for the Cougars, who will get back their starting quarterback Hunter Fralick. Fralick has been rehabbing an ankle sprain for two weeks. SSHS football coach Scott Hare said he was glad they held out Fralick in a 28-6 non-league loss at Inderkum last week.
Galena started off the season with two sizable wins over Lassen and North Valleys. But last week the Grizz hit a speed bump and was routed 51-14 by Reno.
“They started off real well. The first two games they put 40 on the board each week. They definitely did a great job defensively, creating turnovers,” SSHS football coach Scott Hare said. “There are six or seven guys that are now seniors who were on that team as sophomores. I think they’re a really good football team. I think last week they got in trouble early and it kind of went sideways on them. I don’t think that’s indicative of the team they are. I think the first two weeks are more indicative of how they play. That’s the team we’re expecting to see.”
With Spanish Springs coming off its own loss and High Desert League action starting in Week 6, the Cougars know how important this week is to the rest of the season.
“This is a big one since we’re coming off a loss,” Hare said. “We’ve got to come out and play with a lot of energy. We’ve got to get a win this week. I fully expect to see that from the kids.”
Fernley Vaqueros (2-1) at Sparks Railroaders (0-3), Friday 7 p.m.
Sparks has picked up seven first downs and scored no points to show for it in its first two league games of the season. And while Fernley has struggled almost as badly as Sparks on offense, the Vaqueros might be coming into their own.
Sparks football coach Rob Kittrell said Fernley instituted a new option style offense this season and it has taken time for the personnel to grasp the new concepts. If the latest box score is any indication, the Railroaders might be in for a challenge Friday night.
In its first two games, Fernley was 4-for-16 through the air for 36 yards and two interceptions. But last week, against an Elko team that allowed only two first downs in a shutout against Sparks, the Vaqueros’ passing game was much improved. Fernley downed Elko 28-0, completing 5 of 13 passes for 111 yards and its first passing touchdown of the season.
The running game has been a little more consistent for the Lyon County school, but its best effort was last week as well as it totaled 225 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns.
Kittrell said Fernley is a little scary because it has the best team speed that he has seen in the league.
The Railroaders’ defense was pretty solid early on against Spring Creek, blanking the Spartans in the first quarter before giving up 55 points over the final 36 minutes of play. Kittrell said it will take a disciplined effort on defense to slow down the Vaqueros.
Still, the concern with Sparks lies in its offense. If the Railroaders’ offense can’t give the defense a rest, it will be another long night at Sparks High.
“We’re doing everything we can to try to get better,” Kittrell said. “It’s just a struggle. It’s a thing where we need to focus on winning each play basically. When we did go back and watch film, there were just a lot of mental breakdowns those first few series. It’s very frustrating. It comes down to execution and getting some momentum on our side.
“I think it’s a huge confidence thing right now with everyone, offense and defense. The Elko game early on was a lot like the Spring Creek game, where we were giving up small chunks of yardage and it got worse as the game went on. The defense has been somewhat strong early on, but the offense is not moving the ball, and that’s the confidence right now.”