Here's a closer look at what's on tap for the local squads this weekend.
- Reed (5-2) at Reno (5-2), Friday 7:30 p.m. -
•At Bishop Manogue last Saturday, Reed got drilled by a Miners buzzsaw, 41-14. The score, if not the outcome, was a shock to most prep pigskin prognosticators around northern Nevada. It was a frustrating loss to say the least for a Raiders squad that looked like it was starting to peak for the season's stretch run.
“The kids and coaches, we all looked at the film and saw a lot of mistakes that we feel we should not be making at this point in the season,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “Anytime you have a loss, it's a step backward because you're not going in the right direction.We're all about having success and one way we gauge that is winning ballgames. A loss is not the worst thing that can happen, but you have to take it and turn it into something that drives you.”
The defeat was not something the Raiders shook off lightly.
“We expect to win and to come out of there with such a lopsided loss, we were frustrated and disappointed,” Howren said. “We ran the whole gamut of emotions. Playing on Saturday made it tougher because we only had a day to work through that and then we had to get right back after it.
“Everyone is bouncing back. We're going to be OK as a program. We're going to get going in the right direction again.”
Reed will try to get going in the right direction when it hosts Reno Friday night. Howren praised the Huskies physical play, saying the team gets off the line harder than any other team in the league. He pointed out that Reno's defensive line is big and good, which allows its linebackers to snake through holes and make plays. He also called Huskies quarterback Anthony Hascheff one of the top playmakers in the area.
Raiders coaches are working on schemes to take the Huskies out of their comfort zone. Howren said that will be the key to his team getting back on track and in the win column.
This week is Homecoming week for Reed, but the Raiders’ veteran coach does not believe it will be a distraction for his athletes.
“It's only a distraction if you let it be a distraction,” Howren said. “The kids should be out enjoying all the activities. Whatever there is, they should be a part of it. As long as it does not take away from what were doing in practice and in preparing for the game on Friday, it should have no effect at all.”
After nearly a week of being asked what happened last week and what's wrong, you can bet Reed's players and coaches are anxious to get back on the gridiron and remove memories of last week's loss.
“There is no doubt about it. When you lose a game like that, whether it's close or a blowout, you want to get back into the win column,” Howren said.
- Carson (6-0) at Spanish Springs (5-1), Friday 7:30 p.m. -
•The bad news for Spanish Springs was its bye week came after a stinging loss that left the Cougars an extra week to sit on a bad memory. The good news is SSHS coach Scott Hare said the off week got his team, refreshed, refocused and re-energized as it prepares for a Carson team that many believe is the favorite to win a Northern 4A title this fall.
“I'm not a fan of the bye, but this bye was great,” Hare said. “It worked out really well and it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes, it can leave you kind of stale, but it came at the right time for us. We are pretty healthy. We regrouped. I think we're ready for the stretch run.”
It won't be an easy stretch run either. Spanish Springs plays Carson, Douglas and Reed in the final three weeks. Hare believes the Carson team may be the best of them all.
“If I voted right now, and I've seen everybody, I'd vote them No. 1,” Hare said. “They are very solid, very well coached. They are disciplined on both sides of the ball. There's not a lot of weaknesses.
“The McQueen game proved we can play with anybody. I think we're a contender. We'll find out Friday night if we're part of the conversation.”
Before its bye, Spanish Springs blew a 14-12 lead against McQueen with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter after it gave up a 31-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-6 play. Despite the emotional havoc the defeat wreaked on the Cougars, Hare does not believe it will hurt his club.
“I think the kids understand at this point that the McQueen loss actually means nothing,” Hare said. "I think the kids realize losing didn't hurt us. It refocused us more than anything else. It gives us a blemish on our record but in the long run, it's not a big deal.
“I thought last week we had really good practices. It had more of a double-day feel about it in terms of focusing on what we need to improve on. And this week's been great. We were full of intensity and got after it.”
Spanish Springs coaches know Carson is no fluke. The Senators have handled every opponent on their schedule. Hare said the combination of their discipline and talent is what makes them so good.
“After watching Manogue take care of Reed last Saturday and knowing Carson beat Manogue 29-14, that tells you Carson's pretty good,” he said.
- Sparks (3-4) at Dayton (2-5), Friday 7 p.m. -
•The Railroaders will go on the road Friday as they look to snap their four-game losing skid. Luckily for the struggling Sparks squad, it has something in common with Dayton. The Dust Devils are also on a four-game skid.
“It's an important game for both teams,” Sparks coach Rob Kittrell said. “In looking at the playoff picture, we only have one league game left after this. And with Spring Creek's win over Lowry last week, that makes it tougher. For us to make the playoffs, this is a game we desperately need so we can control our own destiny.
“It's very important, one we'd definitely like to have. I look for a tightly contested matchup. Again, it will probably come down to turnovers and mistakes that result in good field position.”
It has been a tale of two seasons for Sparks. The Railroaders, who won their first three games have not resembled much the team that has dropped its last four. Kittrell said his team needs to find a way to feel good about itself but admitted that's hard to do without wins to build from.
“We need some confidence,” he said. “When things go bad, we start pressing. Looking back at my play calling last week, I started pressing too, trying to create quick scores. I told the kids, our struggles have nothing to do with effort. It's all about making mistakes and putting ourselves in situations that implode on us.”
For that reason, Kittrell said it would be beneficial for his team to get an early lead at Dayton. He believes that would give his team some early confidence, which would allow it to play looser and faster.
“We've just got to keep moving forward and believing in what we're doing,” Kittrell said. “The pressing issue comes when we get one kid trying to do too much instead of just their responsibility. It's more of a mental thing right now and of course if I had the answer to that, I'd be a top selling author.”