Dayton ready for big test against Lowry
Dayton High looks to stretch its winning streak to two straight tonight when it hosts undefeated Lowry.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Lowry enters the game with a 3-0 record, including last week’s 40-7 win over South Tahoe. Dayton, 2-1 overall and 1-1 in league, is coming off a tough 14-7 win over Fallon.
“They are really solid,” Dayton coach Rick Walker said. “They have a lot of returnees from last year. They have as much team speed as anybody we’ve seen. They have a fast quarterback (Mitch Pollock) and a fast running back (Jace Billingsley).
“This is huge for us. After Truckee, they are the biggest game.”
Billingsley played quarterback at Lowry most of last year until the team ran out of running backs. Pollock guided the team in the last regular-season game against Spring Creek and then in the playoffs.
The move has paid off big for the much-heralded Billingsley, who has gained 411 yards in league play. Billingsley has a big target on his back, but being a top-notch wrestler, he’s used to the attention.
“Jace was all for it (when we made the switch),” said Tim Billingsley, Jace’s dad. “He was the one who wanted to do it. Mitch is undersized (5-7, 140), but he’s such a competitor. He’s done a good job.”
And, if teams spend too much time focusing on Jace Billingsley, it could open things up for Jon Hernandez, the Buckaroos’ bruising fullback, who is averaging more than 6 yards a carry.
It will be a big challenge for the Dayton defense, which was stellar last week against Fallon. Linebackers Tyler Firestone and Sean Derubertis were outstanding, and Houston Berntson, who was shifted to defensive end, also had a lot of success. Through three weeks, Kage Walker leads the team with 34 tackles.
Dayton has toyed with a 5-3-3 defense, and Walker said he will continue with that this weekend.
“We just need to mix it up,” Walker said. “It gives their offense something else to think about and something else to prepare for. They are definitely run oriented.”
Points haven’t been easy to come by so far for Dayton. They did get Conner Oliver in the lineup for the first time, and that helped, according to Walker. Bryce Rivera, who finished last week at center, will remain there this week.
Miguel Santana, who started the year at center is back. He has a cast on his hand so he can’t center, but Walker said he could play other line spots.
Kage Walker has thrown for 349 yards and six scores, while Kyle Onstott leads the running game with 363 yards.
“I thought he (Oliver) played well,” Walker said. “We have to do a better job of establishing the run game. Size-wise they are short in the secondary, and I hope we can exploit that and stretch them out a little bit.”
Last year this game came down to the wire with Lowry winning thanks to a late interception. Billingsley expects another hard-fought game.
“We expect a great game with Dayton,” coach Billingsley said. “They always play us tough. They have a good, solid program.”
LOWRY (3-0, 1-0) AT DAYTON (2-1, 1-1)
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Dayton High School
Coaches: Rick Walker (Dayton); Tim Billingsley (Lowry)
Last week: Dayton 14-7 over Fallon; Lowry 40-7 over South Tahoe
Players to watch: Dayton – QB-S Kage Walker; DE-FB Houston Berntson; RB Kyle Onstott; LB Tyler Firestone; OL-DL Josh Joyner. Lowry – RB Jace Billingsley; QB Mitch Pollock; FB-CB Jon Hernandez; DL Will Thacker