Blizzard pleases Huskies
Reno’s run to victory
MINDEN – Even in his wildest dreams, Reno High football coach Dan Avansino didn’t envision the way this game would unfold.
Sure, the first-quarter snow blizzard was a welcome sight to the Huskies, who had drawn up a game plan that revolved around a running game. But he never expected a two-touchdown avalanche in the game’s opening three minutes that put Reno on track to a 34-14 victory in the Northern 4A Regional Championship game Friday night at Keith Roman Field.
“We were glad to see it snowing because we felt we could grind it out,” said Avansino, whose Huskies lost to McQueen in the regional finals last year. “We’re thankful for the weather, but more than that, we’re thankful we get to play next week.”
Reno (7-5) hosts Desert Pines in the state semifinals next Friday night.
The Huskies won the coin toss and elected to kick off – with a stiff wind at their backs.
The decision paid off when Douglas went three-and-out on its first series, Jake Kileen blocked the punt into the end zone and Ryan McKinley recovered for a touchdown. The Tigers fumbled the ball away on their next play from scrimmage, to set up Conor Martin’s 18-yard touchdown – giving Reno a 14-0 lead with 9:02 left in the first quarter.
“We were thinking field position,” Avansino said. “We never thought that we’d score two touchdowns like that.”
Then Reno unleashed its running game. Martin rushed for 158 yards on 21 carries, with 140 of those yards coming in the first half and 98 on a touchdown run that extended Reno’s lead to 28-0.
“Smashmouth football,” said Proctor Hug, who intercepted two passes and scored on a two-point PAT. “We felt we could run on them. We had a game plan and we were going to stick with it, no matter what.
“We won special teams and we won the turnovers. That was our other goal,” the senior added.
Tom Barcia’s 70-yard punt return for a touchdown made it 22-0 in the second quarter.
The Tigers drove into the red zone on back-to-back possessions, only to turn the ball over both times. Hug’s second interception came at the 2 with 59.1 seconds showing on the clock.
“Having that goose egg up there at the half was huge,” said Avansino, who played for a state championship team at McQueen in 1992.