Only two undefeated teams remain in what is shaping up to be a wild Northern 3A football race. The number will be down to one after the Fernley Vaqueros and Lowry Buckaroos collide tonight in Winnemucca.
Fernley will put its unblemished 2-0 division record on the line (3-0 overall) against Lowry (1-0, 2-0), and when the dust clears, the winner figures to have an advantage in the race for first-place.
"This is a big game; we'll have our work cut out for us, that's for sure," Fernley coach Dave Hart said. "Whoever wins this game will be in control of their own destiny."
Remember, only three of the division's nine teams will move on to the playoffs in November, and Hart expects to see a real battle for those spots.
"I can't see where anybody will go through this conference undefeated," Hart said. "I've seen everyone either live or on tape now, and I'll tell you, there's some well balanced teams. It's just going to be crazy, and you'd better be prepared to play every week."
Lowry, in its first season since dropping down from the 4A ranks, began division play with a 34-9 triumph at Dayton last Friday.
So, what will the Vaqueros need to accomplish when they take the field against Lowry tonight.
"We've got to control their No. 9 (Grant Beatty). He was the difference in that game against Dayton," Hart said. "Dayton played with them in every aspect of the game except for him. They completed seven passes, six were to him and four were for touchdowns."
The Vaqueros won't be able to concentrate solely on Beatty, though, because the Buckaroos have many weapons within their veer offense.
"They've got a pretty good scheme over there," Hart said. "You've got to keep everyone at home and disciplined on that triple option. You've got to cover everything, which creates some problems.
"I think the key is to stop the dive back from beating you early. If they're able to control the ball and move the chains, you'll be in trouble."
Fernley's defense came up big in its come-from-behind 18-15 win against Rite of Passage last Friday.
"They saved our bacon," Hart said. "We're starting to get healthy now, and that's going to make a difference."
Inside linebackers Kyle Davis and Scott Gillespie were catalysts on defense against ROP.
"Scott is one of our captains, a real vocal leader for us out there; Kyle is more quiet, he's just a tough kid who lets his shoulder pads do his talking for him."