Douglas and Hug to square off
Two teams that have been mirror images of each other in recent years square off in the biggest game of the year so far in the Sierra League.
Douglas High travels to Hug for a 7:30 p.m. game today in a key showdown between two schools who have had a similar rise to prominence in recent years. Douglas (5-2, 4-0) has risen to prominence under coach Mike Rippee while Hug has risen to prominence under coach Rollins Stallworth.
“He’s probably a lot smarter than me, definitely a lot bigger and stronger,” Rippee said.
The Tigers would be virtually assured of a first round home playoff game with a win, although Keith Roman Field is still in limbo due to its renovation.
“Of course I don’t know what home field means right now,” said Rippee, whose team has had to play all of its games away from home this year. Rippe said he hopes the Tigers’ home field will be ready by the playoffs.
Hug got off to an 0-4 start, but had several key players out due to injuries. The Hawks opened league play with an 18-7 loss to North Valleys while Douglas beat the Panthers 14-0. But Hug wasn’t at full strength against North Valleys.
The defending Northern 4A champions also made a statement with a 22-19 win over Reno High.
“People who counted them out, counted a little early,” Rippee said. “They’re not ready to relinquish the title, yet.
“Every one of them’s tough but obviously Hug’s playing very well right now. Obviously this is a big game for both of us.”
As always, Hug has plenty of playmakers on offense and defense. “They’ve got big play capabability,” Rippee said. “They’ve always got a lot of athletes.
“They obviously have a lot of character. They fly around on defense. They’re going to be tough.”
Among Hug’s top playmakers is Riley Rowe (25 receptions, 346 yards). Douglas has two outstanding running backs in Tyler Tintsman and Reese Kizer.
David Laird, who has 47 completions for 602 yards, has also done a solid job at quarterback. “Good things happen to good people and he’s a good kid,” Rippee said. Among Laird’s favorite targets is tight end Kevin Emm.
Douglas also has plenty of standouts on defense, including Jeff Nady, Phil Mannelly, Nate Whalin, Sean Molina, Brent Koontz, Ryan Pruitt, Cole Hamzik and Niko Salidas.
“Our defense has been very good,” Rippee said. “We do bend. We give some yards up.”