Eck: ‘I can’t throw in the towel’
For the Nevada Appeal
After every game this season, Dayton’s first-year head coach Tom Eck says, “We’re improving.”
It wasn’t necessarily wrong when he said it after last week’s loss at Lowry. Dayton (0-6, 0-5 Division 1A) did show signs of improvement — longer drives and relatively better results on defense.
But Dayton still finished without a point — even after driving inside Lowry’s 10-yard line on two separate occasions — and lost 40-0 in Winnemucca.
“The results are horrible, but I can’t throw in the towel and I can’t let them throw in the towel, either,” Eck said of himself and his players.
After six games this season, Dayton is still looking for an elusive first point — the only remaining scoreless Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association football team.
Dayton returns home for a chance to get that point at 7 p.m. today against South Tahoe (2-4, 2-3 Division 1A).
Eck, the former assistant football coach at Santa Barbara High School, referred to the pursuit of the team’s first point as the “big touchdown goal.”
“There’s talk from everyone (in the community),” Eck said. “For my guys, it would be nice to be talked about nicely, but they are embracing the fact that … while a lot of people are rooting, there are a lot of naysayers. They are trying to get better to combat that… From youth football on, we ask these kids, ‘Did you do everything you can?’ All these guys are embracing that philosophy.”
Since the moment Eck took the sideline for Dayton the first time this year, the Dust Devils faced adversity: a new coach, with a new triple-option scheme, countless injuries, inexperience and even a lightning storm against Yerington postponing their pre-season exhibition and first chance to get acclimated during a game.
“I think that he (Eck) is very dedicated to building the best program that he can,” said Cory Sanford, Dayton athletic director. “I think he is dedicated to kids and dedicated to school. He is doing everything he can for this program.
“The coach (Eck) is trying to feel out what his team is about and the team is still learning the system and expectations of a new coach.”
While injuries and other elements have affected Dayton, the numbers have been tough for the players and the coaches — an overall season score of 298-0 and hopes of bringing back a freshman team dashed as the Dust Devils were forced to combine their junior varsity and varsity teams on multiple occasions this season.
But several players — mostly in Dayton’s junior class — are transitioning into the new system, even if it appears without immediate payoff.
Blake Fletcher, a junior, has taken the majority of snaps behind center the past two weeks with Tayton Watson still out because of injury.
“His communication with coaches is improving,” Eck said of Fletcher. “He’s made some really nice suggestions. A lot of his input showed positive results. It really helped his confidence in running the show. (The offensive line) gave him a little more time when he drops back.”
Fletcher led Dayton into the red zone on multiple occasions against Lory and two drives into the Lowry 10-yard line.
One drive ended after Dayton turned the ball over on downs inside the 10-yard line minutes before the first half ended.
In the fourth quarter down 28-0, Dayton drove to the Buckaroos’ 3-yard line. On fourth-and-goal, though, Fletcher threw an interception in the end zone.
When asked if he thought about kicking a field goal, Eck said, “When you’re down that much (you don’t do that).I felt we could score the touchdown.”