In the Northern 3A conference, every contest can be considered to be an elimination game.
Fernley will travel to Rite of Passage for a 1:30 p.m. game on Saturday in a battle of 2-0 teams. While ROP can't be taken lightly, the Rams also aren't considered to be an upper echelon team in Northern 3A football, which means the Vaqueros really can't afford a loss this Saturday when it comes to making the playoffs.
In other Northern 3A games, Yerington will host Manogue and Dayton will travel to Lowry. Both of those games are set for 7:30 p.m. today.
"They've always got some great athletes," said Fernley coach Dave Hart about ROP, which is coming off a 13-12 win over Dayton. "You're team has to play disciplined to beat them."
Fernley quarterback Matt Lambeth has lived up to billing so far as he ran for 155 yards in a 45-0 win over Lovelock and threw for 234 yards in last week's win over Yerington.
"Matt Lambeth is everything we knew he could be," Hart said. "He's just a dangerous weapon."
Fernley has also been led offensively by running back Danny Maguin. Hart said a key to his team's success has been the play of its young offensive line, which has been the biggest surprise of the season so far.
Hart said the move of Kyle Davis from fullback to center has solidified the offensive line.
DAYTON AT LOWRY
The Dust Devils figure to face their toughest challenge yet against a senior-dominated team that is determined to make the playoffs after missing the postseason by one game last year.
"They have a great senior class," Dayton coach Butch Cattanach said. "They were pretty junior-dominated last year."
But despite his team's 0-2 start, Cattanach said he's confident his team can be competitive with Lowry.
"We're really looking forward to the trip," he said. "The kids are pretty excited. We think we're going to go over there and give them heck."
In light of what the past week has been like, Cattanach said his team has maintained the right attitude.
"We've kind of kept a pretty good perspective of what high school football is all about," he said.
Injuries that led to breakdowns on two missed extra points proved to be the difference against ROP, Cattanach said. Jory Ely scored on a 39-yard counter play for Dayton's first touchdown, but the Dust Devils didn't have enough players for the extra point and had to call timeout. The kick was still blocked.
Dayton scored with 11 minutes left in the game on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Cupp to Matt Watte on fourth and three.
Watte called the play. "That was a great head's up play," Cattanach said.
But again the extra point was blocked. Dayton went on to turn the ball over on its last two possessions.
MANOGUE AT YERINGTON
Manogue, a tradition 3A power, is off to an 0-2 start after a 21-9 loss to Truckee. But Manogue held Truckee's offense scoreless, which impressed Yerington coach Cody Neville. All three of Truckee's scores came on defense.
"They look like they've got the size and strength that we were up against last week," said Neville, comparing Manogue to Fernley.
But Neville said Manogue may not be as mobile as Fernley. "They don't quite hafve Lambeth's speed," he said. "I think we have some speed that can match up with them."
Last week against Fernley, Yerington scored on a 25-yard pass from Drew Thorne to John Neade and Josh Fitzgerald's 6-yard run.