The Dayton football team won’t catch any breaks following its rough, injury-riddled start this season.
The Dust Devils (0-2, 0-1 in Division 1A) travel across state for a matchup with Spring Creek (2-0, 2-0 Division 1A) at 7 p.m. today.
“They got a lot of speed and they’re well coached,” Dayton’s first-year head coach Tom Eck said of Spring Creek.
At the beginning of the season, most questions focused on Eck’s new coaching strategy in his first year leading the program, specifically the new flexbone triple option offense, but now injuries appear to be Dayton’s largest obstacle following a 48-0 thumping against Sparks in the team’s home opener.
Dayton entered the season thin on the depth chart, relying on several starters playing both sides of the ball.
“We’re plugging players in left and right,” Eck said. “I don’t think the metaphor stop the bleeding is appropriate right now, but I’m plugging up the dike as fast as I can.”
One of those players, junior running back Dylan Torgerson, exited last week’s game with what Eck called a neck injury. There were no concussion symptoms, but Torgerson wore a neck brace this week and won’t play Friday, Eck said.
Eck estimated several other players carried injuries that could sideline them for today’s game.
After being outscored 86-0 in the first two outings, Dayton faces a balanced, disciplined Spring Creek team today.
Jon Jund, the Spartans’ quarterback and son of head coach Joel Jund, leads an offense that dominated Sparks in week one, 47-13, and won a 33-27 second-half comeback victory on the road last week at South Tahoe.
“Being a coach’s kid, he’s smart,” Mike Tournahu, Spring Creek’s offensive and defensive line coach, said of the team’s junior quarterback. “He’s a dual threat. We’re not big on him carrying the football, but if he has to, he can run. He is able to read defenses. It’s cliché to say it of a coach’s kid, but he understands football.”
Spring Creek doesn’t have the same size on the line as Sparks — the Railroaders have “the biggest line I’ve seen,” Tournahu said — but it does run power formations out of the gun.
“We run power and counter,” Tournahu said. “We run multiple formations.”
Spring Creek’s go-to back, senior Jake Davis, ran for 267 yards and two touchdowns against South Tahoe last week.
While Dayton beat Spring Creek 27-20 last year, the Dust Devils will need to improve veryquickly to have a chance today.
Eck said he would continue to split time at quarterback between Tayton Watson and Blake Fletcher, while shuffling players into the flexbone triple option full back and slot back positions.
“Obviously we have to clean up the line,” Eck said.
“The quarterbacks are close to making their reads. With these injuries, we have to shuffle some more people this week, but the overall temperament of the locker room is surprisingly pretty good.”
Eck’s players echoed that sentiment following last week’s loss against Sparks.
“It hasn’t been easy learning the triple option this year,” said Jesse Schmidt, Dayton’s junior running back. “It’s definitely harder. We didn’t have a lot of time this summer. It’s way hard. We made up two plays at halftime (against Sparks) — going on the go. But I think we are all in (with Eck’s strategy). We’re doing what coach says and trying to make it all work.”