Improved Dust Devils look to break into win column
If Oct. 17. 2014, doesn’t ring a bell, it should.
Dayton edged Wooster, 40-37, that night, and the Dust Devils haven’t won a football game since.
The Dust Devils bring a streak of 21 straight losses into the 2017 season, its second under the energetic and always upbeat Patrick Squires.
Dayton hosts Lincoln County at 7 p.m. Friday.
Squires vows things are going to be different this year, and that is based on last year’s season-ending 47-27 loss to Fernley, and this summer’s showing at a camp at South Tahoe. In both instances, Dayton acquitted itself well.
The second-year head coach isn’t going to predict his season record, but he vows there won’t be a zero in the win column for his club this year.
“We gave up three quick touchdowns through the air, and at halftime we had a little talk and that’s putting it mildly,” Squires said. “We fought and scratched and outscored Fernley in the second half. I think that gave the kids coming back a little confidence, and I think we’ve built on that.
“That is going to change, I feel confident in that. We’ve worked real hard over the past summer in the weightroom and we did well at camp. These kids want it, they’re into it.”
Squires knows getting back on track won’t be easy. He knows he needs more players, and he hopes some wins might bring some guys into the fold. He said he got four or five new players this year.
“When you go up the hill, you are going over rocks and boulders,” he said. “We’re not getting all the quality athletes we need. There are 4-5 guys that could really help us this year that didn’t come out.
“I have to coach the way I’ve always coached. I’ve always been upbeat. I try not to dwell on the negative. It was going to be tough and I knew that coming in. I’ve bought a house in Dayton, and I’m all in. This year has been a lot better than last year.”
The 2017 Dust Devils are very young. Fourteen of the 29 players are either freshmen or sophomores.
The lone freshman is Cody Hardin , a 6-foot 255-pound lineman.
“He is big and strong,” Squires said. “He acts like a varsity player. He held his own in our scrimmage. He has the ability to keep up with these guys.”
Hardin joins an offensive line anchored by all-leaguer Troy Olsen at center. Bryce Rose, a senior joins Hardin at guard. Jason Ramos, a newcomer to the program, and Joshua Pasasouk, a transfer from the Southern California area are the starting tackles.
Sophomore Carson Keith is under center, and he’ll be backed up by sophomore Trenton Thompson. Justin Schmidt is the emergency QB.
‘I’ve been pleased with Carson,” Squires said. “I know there will be growing pains with him.”
Schmidt and Austin Lunz are the tailbacks. Schmidt is more of an East-West type of runner, and Lunz is more of a between-the-tackles sort of guy. Schmidt accounted for approximately 600 yards of total offense last season.
Another newcomer, Michael Rojas, will be at fullback in the Dust Devils’ I-formation attack.
Lanky Jaylen Towsley starts at tight end, while newcomer Jeff Walker and Nathan Collins are on the outside.
The defense, which gave up nearly 47 points a game last year, has several guys going both ways.
“I don’t believe there is a big drop-off when we go to our No. 2’s,” Squires said. “A small town like ours, the kids know they have to play ironman football.”
Schmidt is the starting safety, and he’s flanked by Collins and Walker at the corners.
Jacob Massett and Towsley are at defensive end, and Rojas and Tyler Frago are at defensive tackle.
Connor Davis and Rose are the inside linebackers, and Seth Anderson and Chance Schlachta are on the outside.
“Chance was hurt as a freshman, and he was my team manager last year,” Squires said. “He decided to come out, worked really hard in the weight room and won a spot on the team.”