Douglas football clinches playoff spot | NevadaAppeal.com

Douglas football clinches playoff spot

by Joey Crandall
Nevada Appeal News Service

The coaches put out the call heading into the week and the Douglas football team wasted little time answering it.

With a win clinching a playoff spot and a loss bringing an end to the season, the Tigers got right to work sealing their fate Saturday afternoon, rolling up 416 yards on offense in a 41-8 thumping of Wooster in Reno.

“They came out and played hard, simple as that,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “Bottom line is we asked the seniors to step up and they did.

“I think a lot of people though we had probably already played our best football of the year and didn’t give us much of a chance today. But, I think we played our best today.

“They weren’t going to be denied. We had a lot of people step up and make big plays today. We always believed from day one that we were going to get into the playoffs. Now we have to set our minds to the task at hand.”

With the win, the Tigers earned the chance to take another shot at McQueen next week, with a 7 p.m. date Friday in north Reno. Earlier this season, Douglas dropped a 38-6 decision to the Lancers in a game the Tigers just never found a way into.

Saturday afternoon, however, the Tigers were all over the place, dominating every aspect of the game.

Julius Bailey ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns and Cole Hamzik completed seven passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. For both it was just the second game that they’d been the featured starter at their position.

“Julius, the more times he touches the ball, the better he gets,” Rippee said. “He can be very explosive and you can see the instinct when he makes the cut he can accelerate. He’s a tough kid and we are happy with him.

“Cole is a good leader and he doesn’t get frustrated. He is very competitive but he is very low key and the bottom line is that we are happy with the way he is running the team.”

Sophomore Brock Peterson also had a breakout game for the Tigers, carrying the ball nine times for 60 yards and two touchdowns and catching two passes for 66 yards.

Brent Koontz made a magnificent catch, turning over his shoulder as he lept to grab a 16-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Phil Mannelly scored on a 50-yard pitch-and-catch in the fourth quarter, as a big downfield block from Nate Whalin sprung him loose down the sideline and he outraced the last defender into the endzone.

Steven Passalacqua had two catches for 17 yards and Kaleb Wartgow had a big catch-and-run for 20 yards.

The offensive line of Cory Fry, Bryan Barnard, Matt Castro, Trevor Freitas, Ryan Guzman, and Koontz opened up huge holes for Peterson, Mannelly and Bailey all game and didn’t allow any pressure to speak of on Hamzik.

Douglas was dominant defensively, giving up 128 yards through the air and 131 yards on the ground, a large majority of which came late in the fourth quarter with the Tigers’ second- and third-stringers on the field.

Senior Anthony Wedlock, seeing just the second game of his career, picked off his second pass in as many games.

“He’s a guy who wanted to play and I told him at the beginning of the year that he probably wouldn’t see a lot of playing time, so I left it up to him and he said he wanted to stay and give it a shot,” Rippee said. “He stuck it out and now he has two picks.”

Koontz also had an interception – an impressive diving catch in the third quarter – and Mannelly, Barnard and Guzman each had sacks.

James Barnard, Fry, Bailey, Hamzik, Ryan Pruitt and Sean Molina rounded out the impressive showing from the defense.

“I can’t be prouder of these guys on the whole,” Rippee said. “It was against all odds and they got after it and did a great job.”