That changed about three weeks ago when Howren came across an unexpected email from a southern California school, looking to fill its bye, the first weekend in September. That school turned out to be Oceanside High from north suburban San Diego.
After a few phone calls and emails the two schools had a game scheduled and both coaches were ecstatic to avoid of week of practice with no game payoff at the end. Reed will host Oceanside on its east Sparks campus Friday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.
"They had a game fall through for them about three weeks ago," Howren said. "It all happened within a week. They got their game dropped. They sent an email out to district, probably a lot of districts. We picked it up and as quick as we got it, we jumped on it. We had the contracts all made up and we're ready to rock."
Oceanside was set to play in an event that would feature three prep games in Salt Lake City, pitting some a trio of Utah's top schools against a triumvirate of southern California powers. Oceanside coach John Carroll said the Utah sponsor pulled its financial backing, nixing the event.
"We had the opportunity to have our fees paid to fly to Salt Lake City," Carroll said. "They lost the sponsor and dropped the game. Everyone was full around here. It became very difficult to find a game. We started scrambling and then through email we were able to find out Reed had a common date.
"We've never traveled before on an overnight trip and gone this distance. This is outside our normal box, but we needed a game and they offered."
The two teams agreed to just the one-year meeting, but Howren said he'd like to return the favor and make a return trip to the San Diego area in the near future. Howren said the biggest obstacle to Reed going to southern California next year or soon after is the unknown future of the Northern 4A master schedule. The NIAA, Nevada's governing body for prep sports, is expected to explore realignment options for the 2010-11 school year and beyond.
"What I told them right now is it needs to be a one-year contract, but we'd love to go down there," Howren said. "We have always told the kids we want to travel at least once every two years. We went to Vegas four years ago and went to Rocklin (Calif.) two years ago. We were hoping to go to Canyon Springs (of Las Vegas) this year, but that fell through."
When Oceanside, a Calif. Division II school, comes to the Rail City next month, it is not expected to bring a cupcake squad. The Pirates are a combined 24-1-1 in the past two years. Oceanside, which boasts an enrollment near 2,400 students, has won its San Diego section each of the past five seasons. Considering the number of schools in a California section, winning a section is similar to winning a state title in Nevada.
According to the national Web site Maxpreps, Oceanside was ranked 14th in the state of California and 103rd in the nation a year ago.
"For us to get the opportunity to play a team as well known and as competitive as Oceanside is, we couldn't ask for a better opportunity," Howren said. "They are one of the better teams on the West Coast ... We want to play the best. I have always said we want our non-league schedule to be as tough as possible. To be to open up at Manogue (Aug. 29) and then play Oceanside, that's two tough programs. That's what gets us ready for league."
Howren isn't the only one excited to play a competitive, yet unfamiliar foe.
"Our kids are excited, no question," Carroll said. "I don't think they're looking forward to a 10- or 11-hour bus ride, but they're looking forward to the trip, the adventure, the whole experience.
"We didn't really know anything about Reed, but we've exchanged some film. I've very impressed with what their coaching staff does there and how their kids play."