Dayton coach faces former team in Fallon |

Dayton coach faces former team in Fallon

Emerson Marcus
For the Nevada Appeal
C.J. Wilhite fights for extra yardage for Dayton against Spring Creek earlier this season.
Emeron Marcus/For the Appeal |

The last time Patrick Squires coached a football game in Fallon, his team was marching toward a state championship.

That was last year.

The first-year Dayton head coach — who spent eight years coaching varsity special teams and junior varsity — returns to Churchill County for his first matchup against his former team at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Fallon was an important part of my coaching life,” Squires said this week, citing last year’s Northern 3A state championship as the highlight of his tenure there. “Working with the staff and (Fallon head coach) Brooke (Hill) was phenomenal. I had those seniors when they were sophomores and juniors on our JV team. I know who they are and I love every one of them. They are great kids. It’s going to be a little bittersweet for me.”

Squires added: “Fallon will always have a place in my heart. When coaches leave, they always leave a little bit of their heart where they left. But don’t get me wrong, my heart, my head and my focus is all about our football team in Dayton.”

Going from state champ to a team with a 16-game losing streak dating back to 2014 hasn’t been easy for Squires, but he remains optimistic, even with an early-season schedule that didn’t provide any favors.

Through Dayton’s first four games, the Dust Devils (0-4, 0-4 in 3A North) played three against teams with undefeated records entering week five (Elko, Spring Creek and Truckee).

“And now we get the state champs,” Squires said with a chuckle. “…We have played some tough games.”

But Fallon (2-2, 2-2) has struggled early on, too, at least by its standards in recent years. After finishing undefeated in league play the past two seasons, the Greenwave lost two of four league games this year: at Truckee (28-12) and at South Lake Tahoe (38-30).

Additionally, Hill decided two weeks ago to go with senior receiver Conner Nelson at quarterback.

“We’re trying to get (Nelson) more reps and up to speed. He knows the offense,” Hill said. “We’re really just focusing on getting better ourselves.”

“It’s going to be real similar,” Hill said of the two teams. “It’s really two carbon copies of each other. They’ll be two competitive football teams. That’s the thing: he’s (Squires) got them competing and that’s important.”

When asked what he feared most about his former team, Squires pointed directly at the section he coached: special teams.

“They are going to bring intensity,” he said. “They fly to the ball. They are very well coached. Their special teams are amazing. They work special teams constantly. They want the big play. They want the big score. We have to make sure to limit their special teams and limit our mistakes.”

Squires said he was looking to “shake things up” this week, moving senior Blake Fletcher into the starting quarterback role instead of Dylan Torgerson and using senior Ernie Royas as Dayton’s go-to back to start off the game.

“This by no means, means that Dylan is not going to play quarterback anymore this year,” Squires said. “It just means I am giving Blake a shot to see if we can get some momentum. It’s about giving them some reps when it means something right off the bat.”