While there are other pieces of the puzzle still to be assembled, Ernie Monfiletto felt the Douglas High School football team took a good step toward the start of its season Friday during the inaugural Douglas Flying Tigers Passing Tournament.
Eleven Northern Nevada high school programs were represented during the one-day tournament, which was hosted by Douglas and supported by the Northern Division I Football Coaches Association.
The seven-on-seven games consisted of two 20-minute running clock halves played on a 40-yard field. There was no tackling or blocking, no rushing the passer although quaterbacks have four seconds to release the ball. Scoring was set up to reward both the offense and defense — seven points for a touchdown, three points for an interception and two points for a defensive stop.
Douglas went 2-4 on its schedule, however, Monfiletto didn’t look at wins and losses afterward. His focus was on preparing for a season that kicks off one month from now when the Tigers play Minico (Jerome, Idaho) on Aug. 30 at the Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho.
“We got a lot better as the day went on, both offensively and defensively,” Monfiletto said. “We worked hard to shake the cobwebs out and I thought the kids competed well.”
Nick Abreu, who led the Tigers in rushing as a junior running back in 2013, is now competing for the starting quarterback job. He pointed out that the objective at this point is to improve each day.
“We played all right, but we definitely have room to improve,” said Abreu, who rushed for 214 yards in a 15-14 loss at home against Spanish Springs on Sept. 27, 2013. “We were definitely better than yesterday, that’s the most important thing.”
After losing three straight games to start the morning, the Tigers looked strong on both sides of the ball against Spanish Springs on Keith Roman Field. Abreu directed a scoring drive on the first series, capped by a diving touchdown catch by Tomas Leitenbauer. Spanish Springs was stopped on the ensuing drive when sophomore Isaiah Schat batted away a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
Douglas scored on its second possession when junior quarterback Bryce James connected on a fourth-down touchdown pass to Schat. Then Abreu hit an open Cale Kynett over the middle, giving the Tigers touchdowns on three successive possessions. Yet another Spanish Springs drive ended when Cody Ball intercepted a pass in the end zone.
Tre Jackson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore quarterback/safety, had an opportunity to direct the offense late in the game and completed four of five passes during a drive that ended when Taran Grove pulled in a 9-yard touchdown reception between two defenders.
“I think the team jelled,” said Monfiletto, pointing out the Tigers won two of their three afternoon games. “They started last week when we went up to the South Tahoe camp and it continued through today.”
Bishop Manogue went 6-0 on the day and defeated Fallon in the tournament championship game. The game was stopped with about 10 minutes remaining after a horrific collision between Fallon teammates Evan Bitter and Riley Williams. The two linebackers went up to bat down a pass, but their heads crashed into each other. Bitter was knocked unconscious and starting convulsing on the field. He was transported to Reno by CareFlight. Subsequent tests came back negative for any serious damage, although Fallon coach Brooke Hill said Bitter will not suit up for some time as a precaution.
The Fallon Greenwave, who lost to Faith Lutheran in last year’s Division I-A state championship game, won five straight games behind senior quarterback Joe Pyle.
“Everybody was here to get better,” Monfiletto said. “We needed the reps and so did they and this event was a good way to do that. I think there’s a lot of talent in Northern Nevada and the kids are competing to get better.”