Wounded Tigers to face Reed in first round of playoffs
BY JOEY CRANDALL
Nevada Appeal News Service
The last time the Reed Raiders came to Minden, they trounced the Douglas High School football team 43-6 in the first round of the 2007 regional playoffs.
Earlier this year, the Tigers returned the favor, rolling over the Raiders 40-13 in a preseason matchup at Reed.
Neither game, Douglas coach Mike Rippee said, is representative of what tonight’s first-round playoff matchup in Minden should be. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Keith “Duke” Roman Field.
“You look at that game this year and the score was not indicative of how hard it was to win,” Rippee said. “We played really well. We scored on defense, our offense was clicking and everyone was healthy. Reed is a great football team and we just had a better game that night.”
But last year’s playoff loss can’t be used as an indicator either.
“We’ve been in this same situation the last two years,” Rippee said. “We’ve been 8-2 with a home playoff game and we lose. Many people would be satisfied with an 8-2 record but I am looking for this team to take the next step. This program has evolved and we won’t be satisfied unless we come out and play well. We want to play with great intensity. That hasn’t necessarily happened the last two years.”
One of the subtexts of the game for Douglas, as it has been the last five weeks, is the injury report.
Douglas junior running back Johnny Pollack (831 yards, five touchdowns) will miss the game with a nagging groin injury suffered against Damonte Ranch on Oct. 10. He came back briefly for the Manogue game two weeks later, but has not been back since. He had 93 yards and a touchdown in the first matchup against Reed.
Douglas also continues to be without receiver James McLaughlin, who had six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting with Reed but suffered a broken leg three weeks later.
Offensive and defensive lineman Ryan Moglich is out for the year with a knee injury and Douglas coaches learned this week that starting defensive tackle Robbie O’Dell (team-leading three sacks) will miss this week with a neck injury.
“We’d love to have everyone healthy, but that’s not going to happen,” Rippee said. “It’s just how things have gone this year, but you can’t worry about that. Reed has a couple of guys back that were hurt early in the year and we’ve lost a couple of guys.”
Douglas did get running back Jordan Cruz back from a shoulder injury two weeks ago and has rushed for 402 yards and nine touchdowns on the year.
Douglas is led by the region’s top passer, Tim Rudnick (145 completions, 2,365 yards and 22 touchdowns), and the region’s leading receiver, Zach McFadden (46 catches, 843 yards and nine touchdowns).
Rippee said Reed has shown much improvement since the first meeting.
“You look at their quarterback (Tyler Pine), it was only really his second varsity game when we saw him,” Rippee said. “He has improved a lot and so has the whole team.”
Pine threw two touchdown passes in the first matchup and managed 147 yards.
The Tigers pass defense managed to come up with three interceptions in the game, one of which linebacker Luis Pina-Duarte returned 70 yards for a touchdown.
Cornerbacks Nico Barker (five interceptions) and Tanner Thomas (four interceptions) are among the top pass coverage defenders in the region and safeties Davey Fisher and Brad Gonzales have been strong in the middle of the field.
Douglas will have to find an answer for Reed running back Christian Thompson, who rolled up 133 yards on the ground on 14 carries in the first meeting.
“We were two evenly-matched teams then and I believe we still are,” Rippee said. “We’ll see how it goes.”