Douglas coach Rippee to face former player
The Douglas High football team will play North Valleys for the first time at 7:30 p.m. today in Reno.
Players from the two teams met at the junior varsity level last season, but one game is hardly enough time to develop any sort of rivalry – even for a Sierra League opponent.
There is, however, a plenty of history between Douglas coach Mike Rippee and Panthers coach Blair Roman.
Flash back 17 years:
Rippee is entering his second season as the head coach at Douglas, trying to turn around a team that has posted a 3-23 record over the previous three years.
Roman, the Tigers’ senior quarterback, returns as the starter. he is coming off a junior season in which he completed 54 of 117 passes for 705 yards and five touchdowns and earned honorable mention all-league recognition.
But the 1986 campaign won’t be particularly kind to either Rippee or Roman.
The Tigers, once again, won only one game — a 13-9 triumph over upstart McQueen — but the bond that develops between coach and quarterback in their two seasons together is one that is destined to last.
“Blair is just an outstanding young man,” Rippee said. “He was my first quarterback. He was always a competitor. Great kid.
“Very coachable. I’m not surprised he moved in this direction because he always had it in his blood.”
Roman went on to play two seasons at Butte Community College in Northern California. He was an assistant coach at Carson High for seven seasons when current Douglas defensive coordinator Bob Bateman was the Senators’ coach.
“Coach Rippe and I are very close,” Roman said. “And I’m close with coach Bateman. The competitive edge comes out when we play against each other, but we’re friends afterward.”
Both coaches were quick to downplay the role their relationship will play in Friday night’s game.
“The bottom line is the kids go out and play,” Roman said.
Rippee said he’d feel like he was cheating his players if he allowed himself to reduce a football game to a personal battle with an opposing coach.
“It’s nice to see a kid you coached get into it,” Rippee said. “But I don’t ever think about who is over there on the other sideline. It could be my mother. It could be anybody.”
Unlike fellow first-year varsity program Spanish Springs, North Valleys didn’t have to wait long for its first varsity victory. The Panthers defeated Fallon 20-19 in overtime to open the season two weeks ago.
Last week, North Valleys owned a 27-19 lead over Reed in the fourth quarter before three turnovers let the Raiders escape with a 34-27 win.
“Blair is doing a great job at North Valleys,” Rippee said. “It’s nice to see him do so well and be so successful. I just don’t want him to be so successful this week.”
Roman said his wing-T attack, which has averaged nearly 300 yards in each of its first two games, is led by a trio of solid running backs and an athletic quarterback.
Fullback Vince Knight (5-11, 205) scored all four of his team’s touchdowns against Reed. He has average speed, according to Roman, but relishes running hard and picking up the tough yards inside.
Halfbacks Kyle Hanson and Alex Herrera both have shown the ability to break the long run. Hanson rushed 10 times for 140 yards against the Raiders while Herrera picked up 165 yards on 13 carries against Fallon.
Roman said quarterback Tim Haycock played really well against Fallon and had a good game against the Raiders, even if his stats didn’t show it. Haycock is also averaging more than 40 yards per punt.
On the defensive side of the ball, lineman Elliott Mann (6-2, 210) gets things going up from for the Panthers’ 4-4 formation.
Middle linebackers Dennis Kemp and Dave Brown are both undersized, but make up for it with excellent quickness.
All in all, Roman said, the Panthers seem to be making a fairly smooth transition to the varsity level.
“I don’t think we’re going to have to tell them a lot the first few games,” Roman said. “We have shown that we can compete at the varsity level and that we have a pretty good team. Hopefully, we can show that.”