The Douglas Tigers will celebrate their homecoming with a key test against Reno. Key, that is, to the hopes of both teams in a Northern 4A playoff horse race that promises to come right down to the wire.
Douglas is 1-1 in Division II (1-4 overall) and looking to continue the momentum gained after ending a four-game losing streak with a 22-19 victory at Hug last Friday. Reno is 2-1 (2-3) and looking to regain momentum lost from a 19-17 loss at home to South Tahoe last week.
Wooster leads the division with its 2-0 record, followed by South Tahoe, Reno and Hug at 2-1 and then Douglas at 1-1.
And if the trend set by Division II playoff contenders in the past month is any indication, look for another close score in tonight's 7:30 p.m. contest at Keith Roman Field in Minden.
Five Division II games involving Douglas, Reno, Hug, South Tahoe and Carson have been decided by three points or less. The last three Douglas games have been decided by a total of six points and Reno's last two have been decided by a total of six points.
The Tigers will be without the services of two players due to knee injuries in last week's win at Hug. Senior running back/linebacker Kyle Baker will be out after going down with an MCL injury in the first quarter last week. The news was even worse for junior backup linebacker/fullback Brian Turley, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with an ACL and MCL injury he sustained during pregame drills at Hug.
Baker is the Tigers' leading rusher this season and one of the senior co-captains. Another co-captain, Kyle Wentz, didn't play against Hug because of severe back spasms.
"We control our own destiny, but we don't want to look too far ahead," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. "We're not the kind of team that can look past anyone. We're going to want four wins in this division, and that might not be enough."
Reno likes to control the ball with a big offensive line and two strong running backs, Marc Kaiser and Marcus Corley.
"They're a big, physical team and they're going to come at you," Rippee said. "They'll try to pound the ball down your throat."
The Huskies also have a more than capable passing game, with junior quarterback Sean Davis throwing to speedy seniors Scott Beveridge and Ryan Kane. Beveridge won the 400 meters (49.2 seconds) at the zone track and field meet back in May.
Douglas is capable of throwing the ball as well, led by the combo of senior quarterback Brandon Griffith and junior wideout Gabe Hatchett. Griffith completed 16 of 27 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns against Hug. Hatchett caught six of those balls for 80 yards and one touchdown, while Justin Patay had two receptions for 39 yards and one touchdown.