New Dayton High football coach Tom Eck will be at a decided disadvantage when his Dust Devils take the field tonight (7 p.m.) in their 2015 opener at Lovelock.
The reason? Well, there are a couple that come to mind.
The first is the Mustangs had the benefit of a Saturday scrimmage against Spring Creek, while the Dust Devils’ get-together with Div. II state champ Yerington was called off because of smoke.
It may not sound like a big deal to the casual fan, but when you’re a new coach putting in a new offense with an inexperienced team, it’s a huge deal.
It cost Eck a chance to see his players hit somebody besides themselves.
“The kids were upset about it,” Eck said. “There were questions that would have been answered.”
Lovelock coach Dave McLean admitted there’s some advantage to playing last weekend.
“We’re a work in progress like everybody else,” he said. “It’s always good to get out there and get some experience (in game conditions). We have to prepare for a team, though, with a new coach and a new offense and defense.”
And, McLean doesn’t have any scrimmage film to evaluate, which puts him at a bit of a disadvantage.
Eck has been able to get his “groups” together. He has more of an idea of where everybody on his small roster stands.
One thing is certain, he’ll play both Tayton Watson and Blake Fletcher at quarterback tonight.
“No doubt,” Eck said. “We’re going to use as many people (as possible).”
Given this game doesn’t count in league standings, it’s a sound strategy. Eck needs to start piecing things together since Dayton opens Division 1-A play on Sept. 4 against Sparks.
The only thing Eck had to go on in scouting Lovelock was last year’s game (27-16 Dayton win). Lovelock went 8-3 overall and 5-1 in league last year.
McLean has some solid skill players returning — running back/wide receiver Marcus Nester, running back Jared Brinkerhoff, wide receiver William Gattrell, quarterback-receiver Ethan Rhodes and starting quarterback Angel Ramirez.
Ramirez played in 10 games last year, completing 30 of 66 passes for 490 yards and six scores. He also ran for 573 yards and nine scores. Nester ran for 686 yards and 10 scores, and he also had 13 catches for 178 yards and three scores. Brinkerhoff had 327 yards in eight games, and Rhodes has shown he’s a capable back-up at multiple positions.
“Angel has a pretty good grasp of things (we’re doing),” McLean said. “He’s a good runner and he’s trowing the ball well.
“Marcus does a lot for us. He is key in our passing game.”
Rhett King and Logan Murphy lead the Mustangs’ offensive line.
With a small roster, Lovelock will play a bunch of guys both ways. Angel Camarean and Ty Arnett anchor the defensive line at tackle, while Tim Rhodes and Brinkerhoff are the top linebackers.
NOTES: Dayton is 4-1 in its last five openers, but despite getting off to a good start, the Dust Devils have just two .500 seasons to show for it. The only loss in that five-year season-opening span was to Lovelock in 2013 ... Dayton’s last winning season was 2009 when it went 6-4 under Rick Walker.