Motivation? Are you kidding? There will be no need for any pep talks Friday night when the Carson Senators and Douglas Tigers get together to renew their football rivalry in Minden.
This will be the 53rd meeting between the neighbor schools (separated by 16 miles) dating back to 1923, making this one of the oldest high school football rivalries in Nevada. Keeping that in mind, records and statistics should be thrown out the window whenever these teams get together.
"It's always fun and exciting to play your rival," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. "I think it's going to be a great high school football game. This is what Friday night football is all about. This is what you look forward to at the end of the year, to play a big game against a good quality opponent."
Add into that mix, a home field berth in the Northern 4A playoffs will be at stake when the Tigers (6-2 overall, 4-1 in Sierra League) and Senators (5-3, 3-2) face off at 7:30 p.m. at Keith Roman Field. Douglas is second in the league, one game ahead of Carson and Hug for a No. 2 playoff seed -- and home game for at least the first round. The Tigers can clinch that home field berth with a win and they could still receive it even with a loss.
Providing Hug wins its last game Friday at home against 0-8 South Tahoe, Carson not only needs to win, but needs to hold Douglas to fewer than six points and to win by at least 13.
If all that happens, if Carson, Douglas and Hug all finish at 4-2, the tie-breaker criteria between them will come down to fewest points allowed in their games against each other.
Under the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association tie-breaker criteria, no team is charged with more than 13 points per game. Comparing the scores -- Douglas defeated Hug 41-8 and Hug defeated Carson 32-6 -- Hug has allowed 19 points, Carson 13 and Douglas eight.
Confused? Don't feel alone. Just don't let it detract from this football game.
"I think you can throw away the tie-breakers and all that stuff. We just want to win," Carson coach Shane Quilling said. "I don't care who we play in the playoffs. We just want to win the game and I'm sure coach Rippee would say the same thing."
Douglas lost its season opener to undefeated McQueen, 56-0, then went on to win six straight games before losing last Thursday to Reno 33-24 in a shoot-out for the league championship. Carson lost three of four games to start its season, with back-to-back losses against Hug and Reno being largely attributable to the loss of senior quarterback Frank Bleuss with a concussion, and to critical mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. The Senators have won their last four games, averaging 57 points in each of those games, including a 69-28 non-league win at home against Fallon last Thursday.
Both teams have key players at similar positions, creating some matchups for fans to keep an eye on. Among those:
Running back -- Carson's Chris Kotter and Evan Bill of Douglas have the speed to go all the way on any given play. Kotter has rushed for 1,126 yards (9.6-yard average) and 15 touchdowns, including a season-high 245 yards against Fallon. Bill has rushed for 820 yards (6.3 average) and is complemented by the inside running of power backs A.G. Reed and Jake Peterson.
Quarterback -- Luke Rippee of Douglas earned first-team all-league recognition as a sophomore last season and has done nothing but improve. Rippee has passed for 951 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a season-high 213 yards last week against Reno, plus he is a threat with his ability to avoid pressure in the pocket and scramble away to make a big play. Bleuss runs Carson's Veer offense very effectively, has rushed for more than 500 yards and has the speed to break any play all the way.
Receivers -- Junior Andy McIntosh, who caught nine passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns against Reno, joins Craig Bell and Drew Bateman to give Douglas a dangerous trio. Carson doesn't throw as much, but George Pincock draws respect from any defense with his speed -- he was a medal winner in the 400- and 200-meter dashes at the state track and field meet last May -- while Mike Handley and Matt Waterman are both quality receivers. Also, no defense can forget to watch the tight ends because the Douglas combo of Nick Summers/Stormy Herald and Carson's Nick Shine/John Stewart have come up with big catches this season.
"Both teams have weapons and both spread the wealth around," Quilling said. "I think it's just going to be a matter of who pops out."
Sounds like an offensive fireworks show, right? Don't be so fast to go down to the sports book and bet the over because both teams have quality defensive units.
Not surprisingly, both are led from the linebacker positions: Carson by its inside tandem of Shine and Stewart; Douglas by the trio of Jake Peterson, James Bunting and McIntosh.
"Both defenses are very strong in the linebacker corps, and you have to be," Rippee said. "If you don't have strong linebackers, you're not going to have a great defense."
Up front, Carson is led by tackles Mike Moore (6-2, 285), Allen Wooldridge (5-10, 210) and Robert Ghiglieri (6-2, 180). Jack Brooks (5-10, 185) isn't huge, but his quickness causes problems whether he plays at nose guard or defensive end.
Douglas counters with all-league nose guard Grant Hall (5-9, 190), flanked by tackles Nate Walsh (5-11, 220), Dan McDonald (6-1, 260) and ends Ollie Herald (5-8, 180) and Nick Summers (6-0, 180).
Pep talks? There's no need for anything like that when old rivals get together to play.
"It should be exciting," Quilling said. "One thing about this week, you don't have to get on them because they're all rearing' to go."
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal