Sometimes, you can feel the energy change around you.
It’s not like an earthquake; the sensation doesn’t come from your feet.
This type of energy change is felt in your chest.
In the second half Friday night, the Douglas High sideline started to buzz.
In the final stages of the fourth quarter that energy exploded.
Leading 20-7 inside of the final 90 seconds, Damonte Ranch threatened to bring the game within one score.
On second-and-10 from Douglas’ 13, the Mustangs dropped back to pass and looked to the near end zone for a hitch route.
Douglas' Austin Dekruyf jumped the route, anticipating the throw the whole way.
He caught it into his chest and sprinted 98 yards for a touchdown, returning the interception nearly the entire length of the field for six.
It put the game on ice as Dekruyf bolted down the Tiger sideline, followed by players and coaches jubilantly chasing their teammate in pursuit.
“Since they were throwing hitches in the first quarter. That’s all they threw,” said Dekruyf. “I knew it.”
The pick-six gave Douglas a 27-7 win and a 4-0 start as the Tigers continue to match the 2003 team, which started 11-0.
The senior said he can’t remember the last time he heard a Douglas football sideline erupt like that.
“Not in a while. I don’t think I’ve ever have, no. Not on the road,” Dekruyf said.
Black hat football
While Douglas’ offense was able to find its groove at points throughout the night, the Tiger defense never flinched.
In four games this season, the Tigers have allowed 16 total points, working out to an average of four points per game.
Linebackers Cole Smalley and Aaron Tekansik were busting up seams and blowing up plays throughout the evening.
Damonte Ranch was able to move the ball inside of the Tiger 30 five times on the evening.
The Mustangs scored once.
The other four trips, Douglas forced a turnover – three interceptions and a turnover on downs.
“We call it black hat football,” said Smalley. “We’ve just had a huge change of culture in the last two years. Our goal is to be the most dominant players on the field.”
Along with Dekruyf’s interception, sophomore Zachary Jackson was able to scoop an interception off the turf to stall a Mustang drive to end the opening half.
“He’s out sophomore safety. He’s a firecracker and he will light you up,” said Smalley of Zachary Jackson. “He just knocks kids in the dirt.”
A couple penalties put the Tigers in a tough spot, but once again the defense rebounded behind Jackson's INT.
Will anyone slow Connor Jackson?
Every good running back will give all of their credit to the offensive line.
Senior tailback Connor Jackson is no exception.
Entering Friday night, Jackson had amassed 429 yards and six touchdowns in Douglas’ first three games.
By the end of the third quarter Friday night, Jackson had added another 110 rushing yards (unofficially) and three touchdowns to bring his season total to nine.
“My line is pushing for me. … Our offense just explodes off the ball,” said Jackson. “The line keeps working for me. They get me all the yards and touchdowns.”
He got started early as Douglas’ opening drive resulted in six points.
After nine plays that spanned 73 yards, Connor Jackson punched in the first score with 4:50 left in the opening quarter.
The Mustangs responded with an 82-yard, 14 play drive, earning six points of their own.
Following a Tiger punt, Damonte Ranch marched down the field, getting to Douglas’ 24-yard line.
On a 4th-and-14, Brenton Weston stepped in front of a wayward pass for a Tiger pick.
The Tiger offense took advantage of the turnover and went on to score on the following possession.
Douglas’ second score was aided by a completion from Jackson Ovard to Trace Estes, who hauled in the deep ball on a lung before being dragged down at the 1.
After a false start, Jackson went back into the end zone to give Douglas 14-7 lead with 57.5 seconds left in the half.
The team has heard the noise. The players are keeping receipts from the non-believers.
They know their record over the previous two seasons.
The seniors had won just four games total coming into their final season on the gridiron.
It’s been over a decade since Douglas has bested Damonte Ranch.
It’s been two decades since they’ve started 4-0.
Right now, Douglas High football is walking chest out and feeling the energy.
“Everyone expected us to go 1-8. It feels good to be 4-0,” said Smalley. “Coming off of two years of 1-8, it’s unreal. It hasn’t hit me yet.”
Bishop Manogue 41, Galena 16
Spanish Springs 44, Wooster 7
Reed 44, Hug 0
Truckee 41, Spring Creek 19
Elko 42, Fernley 21
Dayton 12, Battle Mountain 6
Incline 21, Pershing County 14
Carson at McQueen, Sat 10 a.m.
(Douglas High wide receiver Trace Estes hauls in a 40-yard completion that brought the Tigers down to the 1 yard line in the opening half against Damonte Ranch Friday night. / Ron Harpin)