Dayton High’s football team finished one game out of a playoff spot last year, and a big reason why was a 37-36 loss to South Tahoe. It was a winnable game, and it was one that Dust Devil coaches felt got away.
Dayton (1-4, 1-3) will seek revenge today at 6 p.m. when it visits South Tahoe (0-5). It’s a homecoming game for the Vikings.
It’s a must win game for the Dust Devils if they hope to finish in the top four and grab a playoff spot. It’s almost assured that Lowry and Fallon are in, leaving the next two spots up for grabs between Elko, Spring Creek, Wooster and Dayton.
“It (the loss) is still pretty fresh in our minds,” Dayton coach Rob Turner said Thursday morning. “It was a really exciting game. Their quarterback threw for a million yards. Their top receiver and quarterback are gone, but they like to throw the ball, though they have more balance than they did last year.
“They are 0-5 and we’re 1-4. Something has to give here. I’d like to smack them early and get on top.”
Jared Fajman has quarterbacked the Vikings in the first five games, but local reports say the Vikes may have a new quarterback tonight. If Fajman doesn’t start, he’s likely to see time at wide receiver along with Brandon Erickson. Dylan Gardner and Tyler Nickerson are South Tahoe’s top running backs.
“In their loss to Wooster, they did a little more running than throwing,” Turner said. “They are still going to throw the ball (a lot). We’ve got two different defenses in (our package). We’ve got our 3-5-3 and then we can go with a four-man front, too.”
For the first time since the Week 2 loss to Spring Creek, the Dust Devils will be at full strength.
Safety Skyler Berntson, two-way linemen Jon Joyner and Jesus Castaneda will all play. Berntson suffered a shoulder injury.
“We’re going to play Skyler just on the defensive side of the ball,” Turner said. “He was supposed to be out between four to eight weeks, and he’s back in three. We’re not going to let him play running back because we don’t want him taking any massive hits on that shoulder.
“We’ll have a pretty solid front with those two back (Joyner and Castaneda). We’ll be able to get fresh guys on the field which is always good. It gives us more depth. It will allow me to split time in the defensive backfield with Dallon Mendoza and Jose Meza, who also play receiver.”
Running back Austin Fletcher will be uppermost in South Tahoe’s mind.
The Dust Devils’ standout runner averages 129 yards a game and has scored five times. He’s also caught 16 passes for 227 yards and two scores.
Quarterback Davis Winebarger has completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 640 yards and four scores. He has thrown 10 interceptions, however for a QB rating of 58.