Even though the scoreboard didn't flash numbers like Dave Hart would have liked, the Fernley High School football coach was far from disappointed with the effort he saw in the Vaqueros' 3A Division I season-opening 23-7 loss last Friday night at Spring Creek.
"The score wasn't pretty, but I thought that might have been the best game we've played this year," said Hart, whose squad is now 3-2 overall, 0-1 in Division I.
"The game was closer than the score showed, we just had some missed opportunities. I thought we dominated the first half, and we were only down 10-7 with four minutes to go in the third quarter."
The Vaqueros had the ball inside Spring Creek's 20 four times in the first half, but failed to score and went to the locker room trailing 7-0 at the intermission. One of the key plays came on a fourth-and-goal situation from the 12. Sophomore quarterback Matt Lambeth scrambled toward the goal line, but only got 11-1/2 of the yards he needed.
"He was knocked out of bounds at the flag. That was a big play right there," Hart recalled.
Lambeth finished the night with 143 yards passing, including a 77-yard touchdown pass to tight end James Griggs in the third quarter, plus he ran for another 61 yards. Running back Joey Fennessey picked up another 42 yards on the ground.
"Our offensive and defensive lines both had their best game. I was proud of their effort," Hart said. "Spring Creek could be the team to beat in our division. I've seen everybody play now and they're right up there. I think they're a step below Manogue, but not by much."
Fernley had won three straight since dropping a 42-8 season-opening verdict at Bishop Manogue on Aug. 28.
Now, the Vaqueros are preparing to put their playoff hopes on the line this Friday in their homecoming game, a Division I test against Battle Mountain (2-2, 0-1).
"That's a must game for us," Hart said. "If we play like we did Friday night, we'll be in good shape. We're still young, but we're only going to get better."
- In Division II, both Yerington and Dayton will try to enhance their playoff prospects this weekend. Yerington faces the more difficult assignment, a trip to undefeated Bishop Manogue Saturday in Reno. Dayton is at home Friday night against Mineral County.
Yerington is 3-2 overall but 3-0 and in possession of first-place in Division II right now. However, the Manogue Miners are a formidable foe.
"They're not undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the 3A state poll for nothing," Yerington coach Eric Bobrick said. "We're going up there to play four quarters of football and see who comes out on top. It's going to be tough, no doubt about it. We're just looking to win another game and they're looking to win a state championship."
The Lions have won three straight, including a 60-24 triumph at home against Whittell this past Friday. Fullback Jason Borsini rushed 244 yards and four touchdowns while teammate Josh Allen ran for another 227 yards and three touchdowns in that game.
"We weren't trying to run up the score. We just wanted to keep the ball on the ground and keep the clock running," Bobrick said. "That's what we try to do, anyway. That's play smash mouth football, trying to run the football north and south and keep pushing up front. If we can do that, good things will happen."
Borsini and Allen played big roles for the Lions, but Bobrick wasn't singling anybody out.
"It gets back to the old saying, football is a team sport that takes 11 guys to win," Bobrick said. "We're going to play as a team, that's the bottom line. We need to execute the play, no matter who's running the ball, throwing the ball or catching the ball."
The coach went on to mention the performance of an offensive line that includes tackles Shiloh Hamlett (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) and Josh Jacobs (6-1, 250), guards Ken Vicencio (6-0, 240) and Brandyn Feole (6-0, 205), center Jeff Borsini (6-1, 175) plus tight end Dustin Marriott (6-2, 190). The group has played together throughout Yerington's three-game win streak.
"Earlier in season we were looking more for quickness; that didn't seem to be working so we made some changes and went more to big body on big body. So far, the changes seem to have been positive," Bobrick said.
This is the start of a critical three-game stretch on Yerington's schedule. The Lions will celebrate homecoming next Friday, Oct. 15, against Pershing County and then conclude their division season at home against Dayton on Oct. 22.
- Friday night, the Dayton Dust Devils face a must win situation at home against the Mineral County Serpents.
"This is a huge game for us. Every game for us is huge, We can't lose another one," Dayton coach Butch Cattanach said. "We can't afford any more breakdowns or letdowns. This is the time to start to perform."
Dayton is 1-1 in division play (1-4 overall) and looking to remain in contention for second-place - the final playoff berth in Division II. The first step is to get past Mineral County, and the Dust Devils will have to do so while filling some gaps on defense.
Tackle Dan Salazar is scheduled to go in for surgery to repair ACL damage and will be out for the rest of the season. Steve Kennard is also out two weeks with minor cartilage damage in his knee and yet another starting lineman moved out of town this week, according to Cattanach.
"We've got to overcome all those obstacles and try to step it up and win," Cattanach said. "The (playoff) possibilities are there. Hopefully the kids will respond and expect to win."
There were some bright spots in last Friday's 27-7 loss at home to Southern 3A power Boulder City.
"I thought we played Boulder City tough for one half," Cattanach said. "They had the ball first 10 minutes of the third quarter ... they just wore us down."
Senior quarterback/free safety Adam Sayre stood out on both sides of the ball.
"Adam played a great football game," Cattanach said. "He threw the ball well, he did a super job of running the option, and he's always in on 15-plus tackles on defense."