This certainly isn’t uncharted territory for the Dayton High football team.
With five weeks left in the regular season, the Dust Devils, 2-3, face a second consecutive must-win game when they host Wooster, also 2-3, at 7 p.m. today.
The teams are in the same boat. With three league losses under their belts, neither can afford a loss. On paper, it appears that there may only be one playoff spot up for grabs with Fallon, Lowry and Elko seemingly safe in the first three spots.
Dayton coach Rob Turner isn’t sure about the scenario. He thinks more than one spot could be up for grabs down the stretch.
“You never know,” Turner said Wednesday night. “That’s the thing in this league. Nobody expected us to beat Fernley last year and we did. A couple of years ago we went over and beat Fallon. I still think the class of the league is Fallon. That’s pretty obvious (after their win over Lowry).”
Dayton staved off elimination last week with its narrow win over South Tahoe, a win that saw the Dust Devils force five turnovers. This week, the Dust Devils face a potent Colts team.
“They are a dangerous team,” Turner said. “We lost to Spring Creek and they went out and beat Spring Creek in overtime. They have a talented running back (Fea Sofara) and three receivers that can catch the ball. “Wooster has improved every year. They are competitive in this league. They beat us a couple of years ago (2010).”
Sofara averages 135 yards a game and averages nearly seven yards a carry with three scores. Alex Anguiano leads the receiving corps with 25 catches for 275 yards and eight scores, while Michael Sowers has 18 grabs for 298 yards. Chris Greco is third on the team with 15 catches for 260 yards and three scores. Sophomore QB Hunter Triplett has completed 54 percent of his throws for 1,010 yards and 12 scores. He has thrown seven picks, meaning he is putting the ball up for grabs at times.
Dayton’s hopes ride on the effectiveness of workhorse Austin Fletcher, who averages 146 yards a game. Fletcher has carried the ball 110 times for 876 yards and five scores. He’s also the team’s leading receiver with 17 grabs for 224 yards and two scores.
With five games left, Fletcher is on track to break Eric Hopper’s school rushing record of 1,348 yards set back in 2005.
“He’s having a great season,” Turner said. “He’ll play somewhere at the next level. He gets pretty banged up, and we have to take care of him (between games). If he needs to sit during practice, he sits. He’s so strong. He looks (physically) like a guy who plays college.”
Quarterback Davis Winebarger has thrown for 713 yards, and receivers Julio Meza and Dallon Mendoza are both averaging more than 20 yards a grab.
Dayton center Brad Gillenwater has an ankle injury, and his status will be a game-time decision. If he can’t go, Keegan Engle will start in his place.
“Keegan does a good job, but obviously you want your starter in there,” Turner said.
Turner said he will try to play Skyler Berntson mostly on defense to rest his shoulder.