The tough-luck Dayton football team has already experienced on-field and off-field hardship in two road games this season.
The Dust Devils lost 37-0 at Elko in the season opener. Then after a 20-10 loss at Sparks, several players found items allegedly stolen from the visitor’s locker room — wallets, keys and cash — during the game. The Washoe County School District Police Department is investigating the incident as a theft, district spokeswoman Victoria Campbell said Wednesday.
Luckily, Dayton returns to Lyon County this week for its first home game of the season at 7 p.m. Friday against Spring Creek.
“There will be nerves,” Dayton head football coach Patrick Squires said. “It’s the first time most of the town will see the product you are trying to deliver…But drawing Spring Creek for the home opener is a tall task.”
As Dayton returns home, Spring Creek preps for its first cross-state road trip.
So far, the Spartans have impressed, beating Lowry, 45-7, and South Tahoe, 51-21. Senior quarterback Jon Jund, in his second season as a starter for the Spartans, threw nine touchdowns in the first two games. He’s completed 26-of-32 passes for 482 yards, according to Spring Creek’s team stats. Jund also has carried the ball six times for 106 yards, almost all quarterback scrambles, Spring Creek offensive and defensive line coach Mike Tournahu said in a phone interview Wednesday.
“His accuracy and understanding of the offense has improved this year,” Tournahu said. “He’s done a fabulous job.”
Running out of the spread offense, Jund’s key target is second-yard starter Dakota Larson. Larson, a junior, has 11 receptions for 238 yards and six touchdowns through the first two games.
Of Spring Creek’s seven touchdowns last week, five were on screen passes, the Elko Daily Free Press reported. Dayton must minimize the short-yardage passing game and yards after the catch, where South Tahoe struggled last week, if the Dust Devils are to keep it close.
There’s no doubt Dayton has improved from last year’s 68-0 loss at Spring Creek — the Dust Devils largest margin of defeat in 2015. Dayton fell to Sparks 48-0 in 2015, and if last Friday’s 20-10 loss at Sparks shows anything, it’s improvement.
Much of Dayton’s success came on defense in key situations last week. The Dust Devils stopped Sparks on downs on the Railroaders’ first two possessions, both in Dayton territory at the 1 and 31 yard lines, respectively. Dayton linebacker Blake Fletcher even came up with a safety in the second quarter.
Fletcher said if Spring Creek establishes the run, the Spartans will open up the passing game. He felt confident the Dust Devil passing defense could keep Dayton in the game.
“They are a powerhouse,” Fletcher said of Spring Creek. “We need to stop the run first and take care of the passing game because we have good corners.”
Even Tournahu said this year’s Dayton team is much improved.
“From what we’ve watched on film, we recognize a much more organized, sounder team defensively,” Tournahu said. “They have an identity and they are sticking to it. You can tell they are building for something better and see some improvement.”