Following Dayton’s 52-12 loss against Spring Creek last week, Dust Devil quarterback Dylan Torgerson said he felt the Spartans “could go to state” and win the Northern 3A championship.
After all, the Spartans outscored opponents 148-40 in three games this season.
But when Dayton suits up at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Truckee, it will play yet another team with legitimate state hopes and a recent history of championships.
The Wolverines — state champs in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 — seem to have returned to their perennial powerhouse form after a recent three-year playoff drought. Truckee (3-0, 3-0 in Northern 3A) beat state champion Fallon 28-12 in week two — the Greenwave’s first league loss since 2013.
“They are a different kind of beast,” Dayton head coach Patrick Squires said of Truckee. “A lot of the beasts of this league we are facing are different. Spring Creek has a definitive passing game. With Truckee they are a run-orientated team. They run the ball very well, and they are strong and physical up front. We’ve seen that with Elko and Sparks. We are practicing for that.”
Truckee head coach Josh Ivens said the team’s main focus this offseason was “to restore the tradition — get back in the playoffs,” and the Wolverines are indeed doing that with a Wing-T power-run approach. According to Truckee team stats, the Wolverines have averaged 254 rushing yards per game this season.
Senior running back Cole Harrity leads the team with 259 rushing yards and four touchdowns in three games.
But Dayton (0-3, 0-3) can’t ignore the passing game. Senior quarterback Jayden Commendatore has completed 30-of-41 passes for 426 yards.
“We’re 3-0, which is good, but we’ve got our eyes set on Dayton and we’re not underestimating them at all,” Ivens said. “They’re (Dayton) improved from last year. They’ve got good receivers, their QB is athletic and quick, and their defense is a lot more active than last year.”
However, Dayton’s quarterback, Torgerson, remains “day-to-day” after a bruised tibia sidelined him after one quarter against Spring Creek, Squires said.
“He’s still sore and getting checked out,” Squires said Wednesday.
If Torgerson doesn’t play, senior Blake Fletcher will start. Fletcher lacks Torgerson’s running ability, but the 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior brings more size to the position for the Dust Devils.
Defensively, Dayton has proved it can compete 48 minutes, as it did at Sparks and through much of the game against Spring Creek’s vaunted pass offense, largely because of improvement on the offensive and defensive line.
“Truckee is a good team,” junior lineman Troy Olsen said.
“I feel like we could compete, but if we don’t show up prepared, they could definitely blow us out. I feel we can score, compete and possibly win.”
Squires echoed Olsen’s optimism in the face of what is still a winless season and a 15-game losing streak dating back to 2014.
“There’s something wrong losing 52-12 and a coach is happy about that, but that’s where we are at,” Squires said. “It’s like trying to climb Mount Everest. We are not at the bottom anymore. They are seeing we have to work harder each week. For a team to take an opening drive 10 plays, 70 yards (last week against Spring Creek), that’s pretty big. I don’t want to use the term baby steps. I just want to see improvement every week. We are doing things better each week. Now we have to minimize mistakes.”
Sierra Sun reporter Kaleb M. Roedel contributed to this report