Galena can hang its banner
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – As the Galena Grizzlies football team rushed to midfield to celebrate its 23-20 victory over the Bishop Manogue Miners at Damonte Ranch High School on Friday, hundreds of fans began spilling out of the stands in its cheering section.
What followed looked like a scene out of “Dawn of the Dead” as the crazed fans and cheerleaders washed over the Galena players in a feeding frenzy.
The Grizzlies were only too happy to submit in their jubilation after winning their first Northern 4A regional championship since its program began in 1993.
“We can hang that banner,” said fourth-year Galena coach Steve Struzyk. “Put that in there – we’re gonna hang that banner.”
With the win, Galena advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals, where it will meet Palo Verde, 37-0 winners over Cheyenne in the Sunset regional championship. The teams will meet next Saturday at Damonte Ranch High School at noon.
It was the second consecutive week that the Grizzlies, now 9-3, brought down a 10-1 team that had defeated them in the regular season. In last week’s regional semifinals, Galena beat the Reed Raiders, 39-36.
The Miners, who ended their season at 10-2, won the teams’ first meeting, 35-20, on Oct. 21.
In what began as a game out of control – there were three turnovers in the first 28 seconds – ended with the Grizzlies’ defense taking control of the Miners’ offense.
Clinging to a 23-20 lead with 3 minutes, 57 seconds left in the game, it was up to Galena’s defense to stop Manogue from either tying the game on a field goal or marching 86 yards for the win.
Two plays into the Miners’ drive and following a 16-yard run up the middle by Andrew Sharkey, Galena junior defensive tackle Mike Parker sacked quarterback Ray Barrett for a 4-yard loss to make it second-and 14 from the Miners’ 32.
After a 1-yard gain by Barrett, senior defensive end Justin Gates swooped in and delivered a wallop to Barrett, who spun down into the arms of linebacker Jimmy Sargent for a 5-yard loss and Manogue was left with a fourth-and-18 from the 28, which it was unable to convert.
“We challenged the defense this week,” Struzyk said. “They came ready to play. We wanted to defer the (opening) kickoff anyway for the defense (Manogue won the toss, but later fumbled on the kickoff). They rose up. They bent, but did not break. That last defensive stand was huge.
“Gates was big on defense. He put the pressure on the quarterback. He was awesome.”
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Gates said once he lined up, he knew he was going to bring it.
“I had to come up with a big play,” Gates said. “You have to have a big play when you’re down in the stance. I came hell-bent for the kid (Barrett). I got all of him. He tried to dive underneath me.”
Manogue, which trailed 20-7 after Galena quarterback Jacob Anderson hit Jesse Snodgrass for a 14-yard touchdown at 7:41 in the third quarter, wasn’t about to lie down.
Running back Joshua Dupree scored from 9 yards out with 55 seconds to go in the third to trim the lead to 20-14 and Barrett ran one in from 6 yards, but Craig Batory’s extra point went wide and the game was tied, 20-20, with 6:25 to go.
Anderson hit junior wideout Jason Parkinson for 30 yards and Sargent gained 20 of his game-high 183 yards rushing on the next play to take Galena down to the Manogue 22.
The Manogue defense held, however, and the Grizzlies faced a fourth-and-9 from the 21.
In came kicker Chris Ewald, who nailed a 37-yarder to put Galena up for good.
Ewald connected on the game-winner against Reed last week and his brother, Tyler, ended the Miners’ 30-game winning streak in 2004 with three field goals.
“I think Manogue doesn’t want to see another Ewald kick for a while,” Struzyk said with a smile as he was repeatedly congratulated by players and fans. “It was the same scenario as last week. Our quarterback was dealing it. He drove us down to score two weeks in a row.”
Anderson overcame two interceptions – including one on the first play after Galena recovered the Miners’ opening kickoff fumble – and went 9-of-18 for 113 and two touchdowns, including a 2-yarder to Jake Hess for a 14-7 lead with 22 seconds left in the first half.
Parkinson led all receivers, catching five passes for 80 yards.
Sargent opened the scoring on a 2-yarder to make it 7-0 at 10:15 of the first quarter.
Manogue tied it, 7-7, on fullback Nate Lytle’s 13-yard dash at 9:06 of the second quarter.
The Miners, who ran over Galena’s defense in their first meeting, picked up a combined 216 yards on the ground. Lytle had a team-high 82 yards on nine carries, but Joshua Dupree was held to 71 yards on 13 carries and had one fumble.
“It’s amazing,” Gates said of Galena’s first regional championship. “I’m absolutely speechless…absolutely speechless. Our team was absolutely great.”
Asked if he thought his team was up for the challenge Palo Verde is sure to bring next week, Gates nodded his head.
“Oh yeah. We’re ready for anyone they throw at us.”