Ake-led Tigers pound North Valleys | NevadaAppeal.com
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Ake-led Tigers pound North Valleys

by Joey Crandall
Nevada Appeal News Service

If there are any three things Douglas High School football is built on, it’s running the football, hard-nosed defense and solid special teams play.

All three were on exhibit Friday night as Douglas raced to a 49-20 win over North Valleys in Minden.

Douglas’ Ryen Ake accounted for 303 yards of total offense, including four touchdown runs, an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown and 210 rushing yards.

On the other side, the Tiger defense limited the potent Panther offense to 287 yards (96 in the second half), holding them scoreless in three out of four quarters.

“The kids stepped up and played good old-fashioned Douglas football,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “This is a big win for us. I felt that we were at a crossroads as a team. We’ve been playing hard but we’ve been making some mistakes.

“We didn’t play well enough to win in the first week, last week I though we did even with some of the adversity we’ve been up against. But tonight was two teams without a win yet and looking down the road, we had to start putting together some wins here if we are going to start talking about the playoffs. The kids really responded. We ran the ball like I thought we could and we kept a really good offense in check.”

Douglas finished with 54 carries for 350 yards as sophomore Conner Peterson had eight carries for 106 and quarterback Sam Cochran had eight carries for 27.

North Valleys took a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter after standout wide receiver Nick Palko caught a 6-yard ouchdown pass from halfback Alex Fong and raced into the end zone on a 61-yard pitch-and-catch from quarterback Tim Herman just five plays later.

The Tigers subsequently made an adjustment on Palko, giving him a bump at the line, and limiting him to just five catches for 21 yards the remainder of the game. North Valleys’ passing game managed just 61 yards and no touchdowns through the rest of the game – which proved to be the death knell for the pass-happy offense.

“No. 8 (Palko) is a good receiver,” Rippee said. “We tried to adjust on him and take him away a little bit. He’s a fine receiver and Tim Herman has a great arm. Our whole game plan just came down to making them catch the ball in front of us and then swarming to the ball.

As a result, the Panthers managed only three plays of more than 20 yards in the game.

“We left it up to our guys up front – Zach Falanga, Trevor Hemsath, August Greth, Riley Griffith and Shane Connelly – to take care of the run and pressure the QB. They did a great job, the defensive backs did a great job. I was very proud of the effort on defense overall.

“This is a team that scored 40 against Spanish Springs and 26 against Carson, so you know they’re pretty good. Our conditioning came up big and our special teams came up big.”

Cochran completed seven passes for 131 yards and a 70-yard touchdown to Nick Maestretti that put Douglas up 7-0 late in the first quarter.

Backup quarterback Michael Nolting tacked on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the game to account for the remainder of Douglas’ scoring.