A new rivalry for the 4A crown | NevadaAppeal.com

A new rivalry for the 4A crown

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – When the Bishop Manogue Miners, winners of nine Class 2A state titles and three 3A state championships, made their move up to 4A football in 2004, that was one thing. But when they moved practically next door to the Galena Grizzlies in South Reno, that was another matter.

“No matter what, when you have two schools situated next to each other, one mile apart, they’ll be rivals,” said fourth-year Galena coach Steve Struzyk on Wednesday. “They moved into our backyard. That’s something we need to address. Manogue is one of those key games every year.”

This year is no exception and the two High Desert League teams will meet for the Northern 4A regional championship tonight at Damonte Ranch High School, where the Grizzlies prepared Wednesday night in windy conditions on the stadium’s FieldTurf.

Galena, 8-3, is hoping to defeat its second 10-1 team in as many weeks after taking down another High Desert League rival, the Reed Raiders, 39-36, in Friday’s regional semifinals at Reed High School.

Grizzlies senior kicker Chris Ewald nailed a 27-yard field goal to help Galena avenge a 40-34 regular season loss to the Raiders. Manogue also took a regular season win, 35-20, over the Grizzlies, on Oct. 21.

It is the first time either team has reached the 4A regional championship game.

“They’re very well-coached and physical,” Struzyk said of the Miners. “They’re big up front. They’re the biggest team we’ve faced this year on both sides of the ball. They tackle well, they’ve got good position guys and they’re a very well-balanced team.”

That was evident in the team’s first meeting, at Bishop Manogue High School.

Following a back-and-forth first half (Manogue led, 21-14), the Grizzlies came out strong and closed the score to 21-20 on an 11-yard run by its star running back Jimmy Sargent. But the Miners, who got 104 rushing yards from Joshua Dupree and outrushed the Grizzlies, 247-161, capitalized on the play of quarterback Ray Barrett, who ran in a TD from 11 yards out and hit wide receiver Chris Gurries for another score to put the game away.

Barrett threw for 143 yards in the victory.

“(Manogue) is pretty much the opposite of what we had in Reed,” Struzyk said. “Reed had a great running game and threw vertically. Manogue will counter left and counter right. They’ll use the double wing and single back. They stuffed it down our throats the first game. We didn’t have an answer for their running game. That’s what we need to find in practice.”

Dupree led all Miners running backs with 913 yards on 125 carries and scored eight touchdowns, while tailback Andrew Sharkey gained 603 yards on 79 attempts and added 10 TDs.

Barrett completed 80-of-135 passes for 1,250 yards and nine TDs and his favorite target was senior Gurries, who caught 35 balls for 630 yards and five scores. Junior wideout Cameron Bozarth caught 24 passes for 316 yards.

“Our defense has to step up,” Struzyk said. “We’ve been smacked in the mouth in the last two weeks (in playoff wins over North Valleys and Reed). We gave up more points and yards in the last two weeks than we did in the season. We have to be able to bend, but not break. They’ll give up yards here and there, but we have 11 guys who will battle.”

Struzyk pointed out how Galena’s defense was able to hold the explosive Raiders to two first-half field goals and built up a 21-6 third-quarter lead last week.

The Galena defense has held its opponents to 141.5 rushing yards, 112.7 passing and 254.2 average total yards. It also caused 25 fumbles and recovered 17.

Sargent leads the Galena offense, carrying the ball 309 times for 1,696 yards and rushing for 21 touchdowns. Sargent scored four times and picked up 170 yards against Reed last week.

“He’s pretty much a workhorse,” Struzyk said of Sargent, who played linebacker last year and backed up running back Ryan Krueger, the Northern 4A offensive player of the year, who gained 1,316 regular-season yards. “When Krueger was injured, (Sargent) stepped up. We knew we had something special.”

Sargent, a senior, presents a significant challenge to any defense, including Manogue’s, which is led by 6-foot-5, 275-pound senior defensive tackle Conrad Burbank (14 solo tackles, 35 assists and two sacks) and senior linebackers Paul Vassallo (46 solo tackles, 48 assists, 14 tackles for loss, and six sacks) and Kyle Sullivan (31 solos, 75 assists, six tackles for loss).

“(Sargent) is shifty, quick,” Struzyk said. “He’s one of those kids who is tough to tackle. He doesn’t always have to run it right at you. The defender doesn’t know whether he’s going to take an angle or come right at you. He keeps guys guessing.”

Nor is Galena’s passing game to be ignored.

“We can throw with anyone. We proved that last week at Reed,” Struzyk said. “(Junior quarterback) Jacob (Anderson) stepped up and had his best game of the year (he went 14-of-17, throwing for 190 yards, one TD, a 2-point conversion and had no interceptions). You need to hope that happens – if you depend on one or the other (rushing or passing), the other team will adjust.”

For the season the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Anderson has completed 80-of-169 passes for 1,195 yards, 15 TDs and threw 12 interceptions. Anderson has several targets in his receiving corps, including junior Steve Blackhart (19 receptions, 395 receiving yards, six touchdowns), junior Jason Parkinson (21 receptions, 212 yards, two TDs), senior tight end Jesse Snodgrass (19, 291, seven) and sophomore wide receiver/running back Jake Hess (13, 159, one), who has added 286 yards rushing on 63 attempts.

Galena has outscored its opposition, 325-183, and is especially dangerous in the first quarter, outscoring its opponents, 100-30, and 185-83 in the first half.

“For their first time here, it’s gotta be exciting for these kids,” Struzyk said. “Last week was such an emotional game for us. I’ve never seen the team so focused. We have to have the same attitude and emotion this week as we did last week.

“The one thing about the playoffs is you have to keep it at a high level week in and week out, or you lose.”

The winner of Galena-Manogue game will advance to the Class 4A state semifinals on Nov. 25 against the Sunset Region champion – either Cheyenne or Palo Verde. If Manogue wins, it will host the winner. If Galena wins, it will face the winner either at Damonte Ranch High School or at Galena High School.

“We’re focused. We don’t care about what’s happening down south,” Struzyk said. “The zone championship is No. 1 on our list right now. We can play at Washoe Golf Course for all we care.”

Tonight’s game begins at 7 p.m. at Damonte Ranch High School.