Dayton football to host Truckee
Appeal Sports Writer
It’s been a history-making season for the Dayton football team, one in which the Dust Devils have beaten two teams – Truckee and Spring Creek – for the first time in school history.
To put a little whipped cream on that sundae is the fact that Dayton, which had never before opened a season 3-0, is now 9-0 and hosting the Class 3A state play-in game Saturday against Truckee and should it win, will also host the first round of the Class 3A state championships next week.
“It’s awesome. That was one of our goals last year, to have homefield advantage,” said fifth-year varsity coach Rick Walker, whose Dust Devils won their first-ever playoff game last year before losing to Virgin Valley in the state semifinals. “That’s always a huge thing.”
Not that going undefeated during the regular season was a bad thing, Walker said, but his team wants to put the cherry on top of that sundae.
“Coming into the season, it wasn’t something we thought about,” Walker said of the 9-0 run. “Our goal is one thing: put up a (state championship) banner in the gym. But you don’t want to go through this good a season to go 9-1. It would leave a bad taste in your mouth. We’re playing Truckee. Hey, it’s Truckee.”
As in the two-time defending state champion Truckee Wolverines, who have won a total of eight state crowns.
“My record against Truckee is 1-7,” Walker said. “We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re not overlooking anybody.”
And Walker’s team likely isn’t looking at Truckee’s 4-5 record and fourth-place finish, either; after all, these are the same Wolverines that forced the Dust Devils to come up with two turnovers in the red zone in the final four minutes to hold on to the 13-7 win in Truckee, Calif., on Oct.14.
“It was a really good game,” Walker said of the teams’ first meeting. “We had a tough time running the ball against them. (Dayton fullback Brandon) Aguilar had about 60 yards, our other backs had 29 or 30 – they took the running game away from us.
“Our passing game was OK, but we dropped a lot of balls. They had five turnovers against us. It was a game of field position – (Dust Devils quarterback/strong safety/punter) Travis (Wood) helped us there punting the ball – plus the five turnovers.”
Whether it’s scoring with one second left on the clock in beating Spring Creek 17-10, stopping Bishop (Calif.) Union from scoring on a 2-point conversion late in the game to preserve a 14-13 win, or coming back from a 14-10 deficit last week to beat Fernley, 29-20, on the road, this Dust Devils team has managed to find ways to consistently pull out victories.
“There was no letdown,” Walker said of the deficit to the Vaqueros. “The kids weren’t hanging their heads. Maybe in the past. I’m happy. They had confidence in each other as a team. After (giving up the lead), we marched down the field and put it on them.”
Walker said Dayton should be healthy for its showdown with Truckee and that wide receiver Tommy O’Brien, who Walker said was nursing an unspecified “slight injury,” is working his way back into condition to play.
Walker said the extra day off threw his players off a little bit early in the week but added the team was getting sharper.
“We’re making some adjustments with our defense,” Walker said. “We haven’t had the best practices all year, but they’ve found a way to win without blowing people away this year. The kids have found ways to get it done.”
The Dayton-Truckee game begins Saturday at 1 p.m.