Following Reed’s loss to BishopGorman Saturday in the Nevada DI prep football state championship, the same mistake could be made.
‘Raider Nation’ remains refreshingly upbeat after Saturday’s loss but others outside the area have already started the, ‘yeah buts…’ about the 2013 Reed football squad. One Nevada prep quarterback (not playing Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium) wasted no time to jump on social media about the Raiders.
But while the Raiders fell short against the Gaels, there were plenty of special moments for coach Ernie Howren’s Raiders squad this fall. Here are the top five:
1. Miracle at Manogue
Just days after the NIAA (Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association) controversially moved the Raiders’ state semifinal against Liberty, from Reed to Bishop Manogue, the Raiders pulled off a sequence in the waning moments that will forever live in Raider glory.
Trailing 31-28 with 34 seconds left and 25 yards from the end zone, Reed quarterback Chris Denn hit standout wide receiver Trae Wells in the back of the end zone, booking the Raiders’ trip to the state title game. Wells was double-covered but managed to outmuscle the Liberty secondary and drag a foot before falling out of bounds.
The Denn-to-Wells clincher was made even more memorable by the play that preceded it – a Denn (temporary) interception. A Liberty defensive back made a diving attempt for a Denn toss, and for a few moments, Reed’s season was over.
The officiating crew gathered after the play, however, and overturned the call. Pictures from the Reed game film confirmed the officials got it right.
The Raiders’ defense held on a fourth down at the Liberty 38 with 1:25 left in the game to set up the late-game Superman antics.
One is a great season. Two is a hot streak. Three is a dynasty. The Raiders secured their third-consecutive North title, and fourth in five years, topping Carson 47-39 in the North title game at Damonte Ranch High School.
Senior running back Jordan de Leon ran for 187 yards and three touchdowns and Denn ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns as the Raiders’ dominant rushing attack carried out its weekly routine: running past, over and straight through defenses.
Trailing by one possession with the ball in the final minutes, Carson marched into Reed territory after playing catch-up the whole game. The Senators’ comeback attempt fell short, however, after senior defensive back Sean Lancaster intercepted Garrett Shafer’s pass in the end zone.
Lancaster also came up with a crucial interception in the Raiders’ North semifinal win over Galena the week prior.
3. Howren hits triple digits
Sitting on 99 career wins, Reed coach Ernie Howren notched his 100th win in Reed’s season opener at Foothill (Redding, Calif. suburb).
The Raiders topped Foothill 38-28 despite spending nearly all of their preseason camp indoors because of the smoke that plagued the region in late August-early September. Howren’s squad also pulled off the non-league win over the northern California football power after the game was originally scheduled to be played at Reed but moved due the poor air quality.
“I just honestly don’t think about stuff like that,” Howren said about his growing legacy last Tuesday preparing for Gorman. “You practice what you preach. This is 2013 and all I cared about was, everything we did was for the seniors and the juniors and sophomores on this team. But everything was about 2013. It’s not about how many wins I happen to have or any of that kind of stuff.”
It is that mentality that will likely keep Reed competing for North titles. It is that mentality that will put Howren among the great Nevada prep football coaches when he steps away from the sidelines for good.
4. Little one-sided, isn’t it?
As exciting as the Reed-Spanish Springs rivalry is, the football portion has been more fizzle than sizzle over the past decade.
The Raiders topped the Cougars 63-28 in the last week of the regular season to clinch their third-straight High Desert League title. It was Reed’s ninth consecutive victory over its Sparks foe.
Spanish Springs last topped Reed in 2004, 36-35. Still, Howren and Reed would go on to win his first of five North titles (so far) that year.
Reed led 14-7 at the half in this year’s meeting before the Raiders’ prominent offensive line asserted itself in the second half, accounting for the 35-point difference.
5. Second-half Senators’ shellacking
In its final non-league tune up, Reed scored 36 consecutive points in the third quarter against Carson to route the eventual Sierra League champs 64-26.
The general consensus going into the game was that it would be a preview of the North title game – it was. The win sent an unclouded message to the rest of the North: ‘If you want to go to state, you are going to have to beat us.’
Carson lost three times this fall, twice to Reed.
Reed led 21-19 going into halftime before Brett Handlin jumped in front of a Shafer pass and broke a string of would-be tackles on his way to pay dirt. The defensive score set up consecutive scoring drives of 58, 10, 79 and 69 yards.
It was a non-league win, ‘yeah, but…’ its dominant fashion set the table for another Raider football season to be remembered.
Reed dropped its final game of the season but the 2013 Raiders will be remembered for the wins, and moments, that led up to it.