Dayton ready for pass-happy Sparks

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Dayton High's defense will get a different sort of test when it visits Sparks High tonight in a key Northern 3A football game. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.

Sparks takes a 1-6 record into the contest, and the Railroaders' offense is led by quarterback Geovanni Vasquez, who has completed 86 of 162 passes for 1,095 yards.

"They sure like to pass," Dayton coach Rob Turner said after a recent film session. "All we usually see around here are running teams. We've been working more on our drops. We still have to play run first, though. I want our guys to take that first step up before dropping back.

"It's not a West Coast offense where they dink and dunk you. They throw the ball upfield. They line up in trips or twin wide receivers on each side. It looks like he throws based on pre-snap reads. We'll try to mix up our coverages."

Vasquez's favorite targets are Quinn Lightfoot (23 catches, 229 yards), Ramon Covarrubias (21-257) and Esteban Bravo (18-332 and 4 TDs). Bravo is also a long-distance kicking threat. He has a 58-yard field goal to his credit.

While Sparks will make hay through the air, Dayton's offense will be run, run and run.

The Dust Devils are 4-3, 2-3 in league. They average only 38 yards through the air and about 220 on the ground thanks to the efforts of the offensive line plus running backs Sean deRubertis, Cody Yeater and Tyler Firestone, who averages more than eight yards a carry. Dayton's team averages 5.6 per carry.

One thing Turner has noticed with his double-wing offense is that his players get banged up. Fortunately for the Dust Devils they haven't lost any key skill people.

Nico Bustos will miss tonight's game with a hand injury. Jorge Toledo, who has been focusing on defense, will take Bustos' tackle spot.

This is a critical game for the Dust Devils in the sense that they have to win out to have an opportunity to host a home playoff game. Last week's 28-14 loss to Elko put Dayton in fourth place.

"If we had beat Elko we would have been in third place," Turner said.

If Dayton stays in fourth place it would probably have to travel to Elko for a first-round playoff game, and that's a trip Turner & Co. would rather not make.

But, as Turner points out, the Dust Devils need to take care of business and beat Sparks, Spring Creek and Fernley which would give them much-needed momentum heading into the playoffs.


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