Virginia City rolls to second straight win
Appeal Sports Writer
VIRGINIA CITY – After exploding on Lee Vining (Calif.) for a 43-20 victory last week, the Virginia City Muckers football team had every right to be happy about getting its first win since 1942.
But with Saturday’s game with Class 1A independent Pyramid Lake approaching, the Muckers were feeling a bit gorged on success and grew a bit too satisfied with themselves.
“We didn’t take it (the game with the Lakers) as a hard game after last week,” admitted senior running back/linebacker Jared Craig.
“I was worried. We were so bad in our pre-game (practice),” said Muckers coach Ron Presley. “We didn’t have the game in our head. Then we come out and put on a decent show.”
Perhaps it’s time to define Presley’s idea of “decent.”
The Muckers had 395 yards of total offense and defeated the Lakers 56-0 at Virginia City High School to improve to 2-1. Senior running back Zack Ullom gained 231 yards on 18 carries – bettering his own and VCHS’ modern-day record of 200 yards, set against Lee Vining.
There was the Muckers defense, which had five sacks, forced five Lakers turnovers and held Pyramid Lake to 134 yards offensively.
Then there was Craig, who had three interceptions – including two for touchdowns – and added a 15-yard reception for another score.
“Today was fun. It was definitely awesome,” said Ullom, who has rushed for 531 yards in three games.
“I’ll take it because it was a team effort,” Presley said. “It wasn’t just one guy doing it all.”
Far from it.
Virginia City senior quarterback Matt McDougald completed 4-of-6 passes for 58 yards and two TDs, ran for another and converted three 2-point conversions.
“We had a great day. I’m so proud of the team,” McDougald said. “I’m proud of our lower classmen – they stepped it up in the fourth quarter. They’re going to be the ones that will keep us going next year.”
Now 17 and after six years away from football, McDougald is making the most out of his one year of eligibility.
“He’s turning into a real leader out there,” Presley said of McDougald. “He’s a general on the field. He knows where people are supposed to be and he handles them. I don’t have to call the whole play anymore. If I say, ’35 Power,’ he calls the rest of the formation.”
“It’s awesome,” McDougald said. “It’s fun. I’m having a blast. I never played at quarterback. I was always tight end or on the line. Everybody stepped up today. We’re not going to look past anyone. It’s insane how proud I am of the team today.”
The Muckers defense had its first test after Pyramid Lake junior defensive tackle Robert Olivas fell on a fumble on the first play of Virginia City’s first possession.
Although the Lakers started on the Muckers’ 39-yard-line, they could only pick up five yards on three plays. Craig set the tone for the defense, sacking quarterback Deryan Walema for a 5-yard loss on fourth down.
Ullom picked up 17 yards on his first carry before going on a 64-yard jaunt to put Virginia City up, 6-0, 1 minute, 41 seconds into the game.
VCHS junior defensive lineman David Grey sacked Walema on Pyramid Lake’s following possession. On the next play, Grey forced a fumble that was recovered by sophomore teammate Joe Ladd.
“Our defense is playing very well,” Presley said. “I’m excited. Like last week, they’re the ones that kept us in the game until we could get something going offensively. Today our offense made it easier for our defense. There was some hitting going on – both ways.”
Ullom could testify to that. With a 41-0 Muckers lead, the senior was clotheslined on the last play of the first half.
“It made me a little mad,” said Ullam, who had 211 first-half yards, including a 37-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0 (after a McDougald 2-point conversion). “I wanted to run all over them.”
Presley made sure it came to no more than that.
“We talked about it. We said you don’t do any retaliating,” Presley said. “We do our talking on the field and the scoreboard. You don’t take any cheap shots. You don’t talk any crap.”
Virginia City gained a 28-0 first-quarter lead after McDougald followed a 30-yard hook-up with Josh Hughes for a touchdown by banging in another TD (from 7 yards) himself.
On a fourth-and-4 from its own 29, Pyramid Lake tried a fake punt, but Craig was there to intercept the pass and take it to the house to give the Muckers a 35-0 lead.
“I didn’t expect it at first,” Craig said, “but (the pass) dropped and I jumped for it.”
Fifty seconds later, Craig stepped in front of another Walema pass and took it in 40 yards for the score.
Craig added his touchdown reception in the third quarter and Cory Monroe scored on a 45-yard run to make it 56-0.
Even 80-pound freshman defensive back Jaime Alonzo got in on the action, with two late tackles.
The Muckers worked the clock in the latter stages of the game, getting as many players as possible some playing time.
“I’m really proud of our last group,” Presley said. “(The offense) had three first downs. They went out and did a good job and ate up most of the fourth quarter. That’s what we needed, is that experience. I think it’s great. They’re learning so fast. They’re learning on the field.”
The Lakers have only five total games this season after playing an incomplete schedule due to a lack of players last year.
Virginia City has a bye next week and will travel to meet Wells in two weeks before opening up league play at home against McDermitt, which lost, 58-46, to Pyramid Lake.
“Wells is a good team this year,” Presley said. “They beat Smith Valley 40-0. Does that tell you anything? We both have two weeks to prepare.”
Presley couldn’t suppress a wide smile when talking about his team this early in the season.
“I live for this stuff,” he said. “This is great. I coach for fun. It’s a hobby. I enjoy coaching – but I don’t enjoy losing. These kids are making me proud.”