RENO - Just two games into the season, the Galena High football team has already done a lot to erase memories of its 1-9 season in 2004.
Most notably, the Grizzlies have doubled their win total of last year and on Friday night they left no room for doubt with a 41-0 nonconference triumph at home against Wooster.
Ryan Krueger rushed for 188 yards and four touchdowns - capped by scoring runs of 30, 20 and 35 yards on his final three carries of the night - to help Galena (2-0) run away from Wooster (0-2) on a frigid and windy night.
"Cold? No way," Galena coach Steve Struzyk said with a laugh. "It's a gorgeous night."
The Grizzlies have paid their dues coming off a 2004 season in which they won once and only scored 92 points in 10 games. With 41-0 victories over both South Tahoe and Wooster, they've nearly matched that offensive point total already.
Struzyk gave credit to the entire team after this one.
"Tonight was a total team effort. We played well in all aspects of the game, defense and special teams as well as on offense. And we've got to go into next week with that same approach. We're not just one or two players. We're a team," Struzyk said, referring to Galena's High Desert League opener this coming Friday at unbeaten McQueen.
Just like the week before, special teams helped set the table at the start of the game when Joe Milegich blocked a punt on the opening series to give Galena first down at the 13. Krueger returned the opening kickoff 95 yards to give the Grizzlies a big boost in their win against South Tahoe.
"It always helps any time you get a big special teams play, especially right off the bat like we did with the blocked punt tonight," Struzyk said.
This time, they had to settle for three points on Travis Gibson's 27-yard field goal. With a strong wind at his back, Gibson kicked a 38-yarder later in the period to give Galena a 6-0 lead.
Galena were unable to capitalize on a drive to the 6 early in the second quarter, but field position paid off when the defensive unit held Wooster to three plays and a punt. Christian Pavik returned the ensuing punt 19 yards to Wooster's 36 and four plays later, Krueger burst 22 yards for his first touchdown. Jimmy Sargent ran over the 2-point conversion to make it 14-0.
Wooster threatened on its last possession before halftime, thanks to quarterback Steve McNulty's 34-yard pass completion to Jason McNeil for first-and-goal at the 5. McNulty was thrown for a 1-yard loss on first down. Inside linebacker Casey Ernst stopped McNulty for a 2-yard loss on second down. McNeil gained 3 on third down.
Then on fourth down and time running down, McNeil attempted to sweep his right end, only to run into a wall of Galena defenders. McNulty managed to elude a tackle and flipped the ball back to McNulty, whose pass into the end zone fell incomplete as time expired.
"That goal line stand was huge," Struzyk said. "If they score there, that would have given them momentum going into the second half, but our defense did a great job.
"Casey Ernst was a large part of that. He busted through and made a couple of big plays on that stand," he added, referring to Galena's 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior. "He's one of our captains for a reason. He's been a varsity starter for three years and he's showing it now."
Then Krueger took over as Galena broke the game open with 27 points in the third quarter. The senior running back swept his right end and then cut upfield untouched for a 30-yard score with 9:59 left in the period. Next, he took an inside handoff and then broke outside en route to a 20-yard score with 6:36 left. Moments later, Wooster turned the ball over when linebacker Jimmy Sargent drilled McNulty with a vicious hit to force a fumble, and on the next play, Krueger broke around his left end for a 35-yard score to make it 34-0 with 5:50 showing on the clock.
During a span of four minutes, Krueger had carried three times for 85 yards and three TDs.
"He's a game-breaker," Struzyk said of Krueger, who has scored seven TDs in two games. "He's capable of going all the way on any play."
Galena's final score was set up when sophomore Jake Hess returned an interception 58 yards to the 15. Five plays later Cody Holland scored on a 4-yard run.
Tony Fritsche and Kyle O'Brien also picked off passes as Galena's defense rang up its second shutout of the season.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.