DAYTON — Dayton heads home to finish a galling season.
The Dust Devils play their final two games in Dayton, but tough matchups loom against the upper echelon of the Northern Division 1A, including Elko at 7 p.m. today and Fernley in the final game of the season.
If Dayton is to score at all this year — the winless Dust Devils (0-8, 0-7 Division 1A) are the only Nevada high school football team without a point this year, outscored a combined 372-0 this season — they will have to do it against two competitive teams with playoff positioning on the line.
Last week, the Indians (5-2, 5-2) clinched the last spot in the North’s four-team playoff, but could grab the two seed, trailing Spring Creek (6-2, 6-1) and Fernley (7-1, 6-1) by one game in the standings. Fernley plays Fallon (7-1, 7-0) tonight in a battle for first place before traveling to Dayton to end the regular season at 7 p.m. next Thursday.
“They’re not defeated mentally as a team,” Dayton head coach Tom Eck said of his players. “They are more than willing to come out and compete again. On Friday night they will come out and compete the best they can. I haven’t seen any wavering.”
Eck focuses on what the team did in the second half at Wooster last week. The Dust Devils played their most competitive half of the season, holding Wooster to six points and mounting a late-game drive with third-string backup quarterback Dylan Torgerson. Unfortunately, that drive ended in Wooster territory when Torgerson spiked the ball to stop the clock on fourth down. After the game, Eck said: “That’s on me, not Dylan. I misread that (it was fourth down).”
“I really hope the kids do put in the memory bank the feeling of the second half (at Wooster),” Eck said. “Wooster might have called the dogs off, but it sure didn’t look like it.”
Dayton players care less about winning games at this point; more about simply finishing the season and ending the scoring drought, joking they’ll celebrate the team’s first score regardless of the score or situation of the game.
But it won’t be easy against two of the best defenses in the division. Elko’s defense has averaged 15 points per game this season. Fernley’s defense has averaged 16 points. That makes them the No. 2 and No. 3 best defenses in Northern Division 1A, behind only Fallon (10 points). Elko’s defense started the season with shutouts against Wooster and Sparks. Since week three, though, Elko has allowed 21 points per game.
On offense, Elko’s quarterback Alex Puentes poses a matchup threat for Dayton, Eck said. The senior targeted an array of receivers in the Indians 54-27 win last week at South Tahoe, but he’s also a threat to run.
“They feature him a little bit (as a runner),” Eck said. “They pass well, too.”
As for Dayton, Eck said the starting quarterback might be a game-time decision. Blake Fletcher, a junior, left Dayton’s game at Wooster with a neck injury. On Thursday, Eck said he wanted to continue evaluating Fletcher’s status. If Fletcher can’t play, Eck said Torgerson, primarily a linebacker and running back, would start at quarterback.