DAYTON — Dayton football coach Rob Turner admits that first games make him nervous.
“I never feel ready for the first game,” he said Thursday prior to practice. “I’m always wondering if we did enough of this or did enough of that. I think this year we’re as ready as we’ve ever been. I’m glad it’s a nonconference game.”
The opponent is Lovelock, which handled the Dust Devils a 33-16 loss last year.
Turner said the Dust Devils will be without wingback-defensive back Julio Meza, who has a knee injury. Dallon Mendoza will take over at wing, and Benji Ply will move out to wide receiver.
Two other backups won’t suit up because of concussions. Turner expects to have 27 in uniform tonight.
“We know each other well,” Turner said. “They are in a small league, and they have trouble getting games. It’s been a good series.
“They are well coached, and the last three or four years they have had some good talent. The last time we beat them (24-14 in 2011) was the only loss they had and they won the state title. They look like they lost a lot of seniors, but they are still going to be a tough team. You can’t look past them. On offense they execute very well.”
Because of technological issues, the teams didn’t trade film on their scrimmages. Turner said Lovelock was at the same summer camp at Fernley as the Dust Devils.
“They run double tight end and even some double-wing like we used a couple of years ago,” Turner said. “They want to control the ball and control the clock. They also run the option which is a nightmare (to prepare for in a short span).”
Jared Brinkerhoff (274 yards rushing, 4 TDs) is the top returning back. Colten Davis (167 yards) and Angel Ramirez (142 yards rushing, 268 yards passing) are also back. Ramirez threw just 31 passes in a back-up role. Andrew Dickerman is the top receiver with 10 grabs for 191 yards last year. Davis added seven catches for 118 yards.
Turner has some solid skill players back, including Skyler Berntson (167 yards rushing, 46 receiving), Mendoza (143 yards receving), quarterback Davis Winebarger (940 yards passing and 9 TDs), tight end Jaret Reed (97 yards) and fullback Quinn Santana (172 yards). Winebarger had more interceptions than TDs, which isn’t a good stat at any level.
“I worked some with the receivers this past wek on their routes,” Turner said. “The routes are getting better. We’ve worked with Davis on rollouts and finding his receivers on the shorter routes. We’ve put in some pass pays designed to go shorter. Davis looked very good in practice (on Wednesday).”
Turner hopes that carries over to tonight.
“We made a ton of mistakes last year against them,” Turner said. “This is the first step in getting the season off to a successful start. We lost two in a row to start last year and that left a bitter taste in our mouths.”