Dayton clinches Northern 3A regular season title
Appeal Sports Writer
DAYTON – From the overfull parking lot, to the overfull statdium, all the way down to an intermittent mist, there was a feeling of expectation and impending history at Dayton High School on Friday night.
And a little over three hours later, the expectations were fulfilled and the Dust Devils football team continued its journey where no Dayton team has gone before.
The first-place Dust Devils had a huge night from junior running back Brandon Aguilera and a balanced offensive and defensive attack and swept through the Sparks Railroaders, 40-24, to claim their first ever Northern 3A regular season title and improve to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in league.
“It’s awesome,” said fifth-year Dayton coach Rick Walker. “It’s a great feeling. All the credit goes to the kids. They worked their butts off. It was a huge challenge. Sparks is a great team. We took it to ’em.”
That they did.
Dayton overcame 13 first-half penalties to roll to a 26-12 lead heading into the locker room. The Dust Devils outgained the Railroaders 317-179 over the first half, with 171 of those yards coming on the ground courtesy of Aguilera, who had a career-high 213 yards on 20 carries.
The 16-year-old Aguilera also caught three passes for 20 yards and added two touchdown runs in the third quarter to give the Dust Devils an insurmountable 40-12 lead.
“Brandon is an awesome kid,” Walker said. “With the first hit, you’re not going to tackle this kid. The best part is I get him for another year.”
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Aguilera is used to success against Sparks, having run for 133 and 115 yards against the Railroaders last year. But this performance was uncharted territory for him.
“It’s great to go another place that the team hasn’t gone before,” Aguilera said. “We’re getting records everywhere we go. It’s the best feeling ever. Our line did the best they’ve done all season.
“Our defense has been unstoppable all year. We’re second in the state. Our offense hadn’t been doing weel. Today we did.”
Quarterback Travis Wood threw two touchdowns to Tommy O’Brien – from 10 yards in the first quarter for a 13-0 lead and from 23 yards for a 20-6 lead in the second quarter.
Wood, who went 12-of-22 for 179 yards, also ran in a pair of touchdowns. The first one was from 3 yards out and opened the scoring at 6-0 and the second was from a yard out for a 26-12 lead in the second quarter.
“It was a great team win,” Walker said. “Finally our offense did a bit instead of the defense.”
But as the sidelines were filled with players holding up eight fingers to signify the unprecedented 8-0 start, one got the feeling that the Dust Devils were still hungry.
“We’re not done yet,” Walker said. “We’re still moving. Like I’ve been saying all year, this is a banner year. It’s not about the conference championship. It’s a banner year. We’re at home for the playoffs. I want to hang that sucker (the state championship banner) up in the gym.”
Dayton, which secured homefiled advantage for the regional playoffs with the win, will try and finish a perfect regular season on Thursday when it travels to Fernley.
“It’s a short week,” said Walker, whose team dropped Sparks to 6-2 overall, 2-2 in league. “The kids have about 12 hours, then they begin thinking about next Thursday.”