RENO — Steve Struzyk smiled as he paused Friday night after Galena High’s 27-7 Sierra League win against Douglas.
“I’m just glad the clock reads zero,” the Galena coach said.
Struzyk had good reason to feel relieved after Galena (1-0 league, 6-0 overall) scored 14 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes to gain some breathing room and win their homecoming game. Douglas (0-1, 1-5) gave the Grizzlies all they could handle on a night when the scoreboard read 13-7 with 41.9 seconds left in the third quarter.
“That was a great effort,” Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said. “I couldn’t ask for any more out of those kids,”
Ben Barnard, who came in as the leading Northern Division I rusher with 1,009 yards in five games, ran for two touchdowns and had a momentum-turning 50-yard kick return to lead the defending league champion Grizzlies. Quarterback Brock Raggio also threw a pair of TD passes to Josh Folkers in the third quarter.
Douglas trailed 13-7 after Nick Abreu’s 4-yard touchdown run with 41.9 seconds left in the period.
Douglas’ defense set the score up moments before when Taylor Souza stripped the ball and Dalton Grissel recovered at the 18.
Galena answered immediately, however, as Barnard returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Douglas 38. Barnard broke a 22-yard run on the next play, then after an offensive holding call, the Grizzlies scored on Raggio’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Josh Folkers as the third-quarter buzzer sounded.
Raggio and Folkers also collaborated on a 21-yard touchdown pass as Galena took a 13-0 lead earlier in the third quarter.
Of interest, Monfiletto said earlier in the week winning the kicking game would be one of the keys to victory — and the Tigers did produce three blocked kicks on the night. Two of those came in the third quarter when Zach Kinder and Andrew Jensen blocked PAT attempts. Earlier, Kyle Adams blocked a field goal attempt in the second quarter.
“We work extra hard on special teams, and I just think it’s all paying off,” Monfiletto said, referring to the team’s six blocked kicks so far this season (Adams has four).
Douglas clicked offensively on its opening possession, as the Tigers moved to Galena’s 32 in 10 plays before they were forced to punt. Quarterback Wes Hundley completed 4 of 5 passes for 39 yards during the five-minute drive.
Barnard broke the scoreless tie late in the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run.
The Grizzlies had threatened on their two previous possessions, driving to the Douglas 19 and 11, only to come away empty handed both times. The first ended when Adams stripped the ball from Barnard and Garret Rice recovered the loose ball at the 12. The second was denied when Adams blocked Barnard’s 28-yard field goal attempt with 8:35 left in the second quarter.
Keep in mind Galena came in averaging 42.0 points per game.
“We have a lot of respect for that outfit over there,” Struzyk said, pointing toward the Tigers. “Records don’t mean anything when you get into league. That was a tough game. They came ready to play. They played tough run defense and they’re well coached. I’ll tell you, they’re going to win some league games before this is all over with.”