Dust Devils win opener
RENO — Dayton High School’s defense forced two early turnovers that led to touchdowns and the Dust Devils went on a 21-0 season opening victory against Incline Saturday afternoon at Galena High School.
With nine penalties for 82 yards and three turnovers, the Dust Devils weren’t pretty in their debut under coach Rick Walker, but they still won the non-conference game. And considering this win matches the team’s total for the entire 2001 season, Walker is more than happy to take it.
“It’s my first one; I’ll take it,” Walker said. “Overall, I thought the kids did a good job. I was proud of them.”
The situation was similar for Incline, a program that has won only four games in the last three seasons and was playing its first game under coach Mike Dulisse. The Lake Tahoe school was even forced to host the game at Galena because its own field is under repair.
“We’re still getting to know each other and learn the system, so it’s just a matter of getting more time to jell together,” said Dulisse, who accepted the Incline post on Aug. 8. “We’ll improve and we’ll be fine. This is what preseason is for, to see what you can and can’t do, see what you need to work on and go from there. Our players took it real hard today; I like to see that, though. The players are upset and they’re showing their emotions, that shows me they care about the team and about the sport and they want to do the best job they can.”
Dayton’s Justin Cross had a big day on the offensive side, as the junior tailback rushed for 142 yards on 26 carries. Junior wideout Dylan Morris scored on an 18-yard touchdown run and had two other runs of better than 20 yards nullified by penalties.
And don’t forget a defensive unit that swarmed to the ball from the outset. Inside linebacker Brian Irwin stripped the ball loose on the second play from scrimmage, and even though Incline retained possession, the Highlanders fumbled again on the next play. This time Irwin recovered on the Incline 46.
Cross busted a 15-yard run on a third-and-9 play to give Dayton a first down on the 30, and five plays later, Morris broke loose on a counter play and ran 18 yards for a touchdown and 6-0 lead.
Incline turned the ball over again on its next possession when Tim Torres recovered a fumble on the 30. Morris caught a 24-yard pass from quarterback Casey Skog to give Dayton first-and-goal at the 6, and two plays later, Skog scored on a 2-yard sneak. Skog’s pass to Irwin for the two-point conversion gave Dayton a 14-0 lead with 5:02 left in the first quarter.
“The first half of the first quarter, our defense struggled a little,” Dulisse said. “I think the kids were a little bit nervous, but after the nervousness was gone, they didn’t score a touchdown on us after halfway through the first quarter, so there were some things we could look at be proud of.”
The Dust Devils came up with some more big defensive plays, too. Incline moved from its own 13 to the 41, but then on a 4th-and-1 play, Justin Seals and Irwin stopped quarterback Jeff White for no gain with 10:20 left in the second quarter. Jake Deen also intercepted a pass for the Dust Devils later in the first half.
The defensive struggle continued after the intermission.
The Dust Devils took the second half kickoff and mounted a 14-play drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock, but they stalled at the Incline 10 when Cross was stopped on a fourth-down run by Jonathan Negrillo.
Dayton mounted a 12-play drive on its next possession and had first-and-goal from the 8. Incline’s Ryan Cates and Negrillo stopped Cross for a 2-yard loss on first down, then Brandon White and Nick Herrera sacked Skogg for a 2-yard loss at the 12. After an incomplete pass, Morris was stopped at the 6 on fourth down — giving the ball back to Incline.
“Dayton’s a good team,” Dulisse said. “It’s tough to play a 3A school. They have depth. That’s one thing that hurt us today. They had people they could put in and out all the time and we weren’t able to keep people fresh for four quarters.”
Dayton’s defense came up with one more big play when R.C. Remington intercepted a pass in the flat and ran 13 yards untouched for a score with 4:29 left to play.
The Highlanders answered with an 11-play drive to Dayton’s 15 before they stalled on two straight overthrown passes in the end zone.
“Our defense came out kind of weak and then we started picking up, picking up. We really stepped it on that last one. They were inside the 20 and then our first team went in there and stopped them,” outside linebacker Gabe Sumsion said.
The Dust Devils were certainly happy to collect their first win.
“This was a real good boost for our confidence right now,” Sumsion said. “We lost our first game last year. Now we got that first win. Lowry’s our next game; we’ve got some confidence now, but we still need to try and get better every day.”
Dayton hosts Lowry this coming Friday in the Northern 3A conference opener for both teams.