Dayton optimistic heading into week 2 |

Dayton optimistic heading into week 2

Emerson Marcus
For the Nevada Appeal

In Dayton’s 37-0 season-opening loss last week at Elko, the offensive production improved from last year, but the outcome remained all too familiar.

According to the Dust Devils’ team stats, Dayton (0-1, 0-1 in Northern 3A) recorded 16 first downs and 179 total yards.

Quarterback Dylan Torgerson completed 13-of-24 passes for 77 yards and running back Wesley Thompson rushed for more than 60 yards in the first half.

All those stats surpass 2015 season highs for Dayton, which didn’t score a touchdown until its final possession of the year.

So while the outcome looks familiar, there’s reason for optimism as the team heads into its second game of the season 7 p.m. Friday at Sparks (0-1, 0-1).

“The kids played a very good game,” first-year Dayton head coach Patrick Squires said. “There are absolutely things we need to fix. We are going to make the tweaks. That’s why we have film. Competitively, it was a big take away for us. There was no give up. No give up whatsoever.”

But there was similar optimism last year before Dayton’s 48-0 home-opener loss against Sparks.

Heading into week two, though, Sparks is licking its wounds following a 49-19 loss at home against South Tahoe.

“Offensively we fumbled it down in the red zone,” said Sparks head coach Rob Kittrell, who’s in his 19th year with the Railroaders. “We had two drives stopped by fumbles; another stopped by penalties. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot offensively… But I was very impressed with the fact that throughout the game — even to the end — there was no quit.”

Kittrell said Sparks (3-7 last year) could play as many as three quarterbacks on Friday: juniors Kaige Lewis, Cody Mcabee and senior track star Nick Van Patten.

When asked if he was implementing a quarterback by committee, Kittrell said, “yes,’ and even suggested switching quarterbacks mid-possession.

“A couple times we switched in the second half in mid drive (last week),” he said. “They still did a good job. We’re asking our quarterbacks to manage the rhythm of the game.”

As for Dayton, the Dust Devils hope to keep riding the hot hand of Wesley Thompson.

The senior carried much of the load in a competitive first half against Elko — leading multiple drives into Elko territory — but came out in the second half after an injury.

“I had more (yards) than all of last season put together — all in the first half,” Thompson said. “I got hurt in the second half. Not sure, but coaches think I pulled my quad. It’s healed now. I think my muscle just tightened up. We were not 100 percent sure so I sat out to get ready for this week.”

Sparks is a big test to measure Dayton’s improvement from its winless 2015 campaign.

The Dust Devils won’t play a perennial Northern Division 3A top-four team and the pre-game road trip to Sparks certainly isn’t as daunting as the cross-state trek to Elko.

“We are going to have to fix our mistakes, but I think we should be able to compete with them,” Squires said. “This is a game where we should be able to make things happen this week.”