There were plenty of question marks surrounding the Douglas High defense heading into Friday night's game against Reed, but the Tigers wasted little time going a long way toward answering them.
Douglas backup quarterback Jake Williams hit D.J. Brady for a 57-yard touchdown pass with a little less than four minutes left in the game and backup cornerback Nico Saladis picked off a tipped pass with a little more than one minute left to seal a 14-7 season-opening win over the defending Northern 4A Regional champions for the Tigers at Douglas High.
Defensively, the Tigers kept a close handle on the Raiders while holding them to 127 yards on the ground and just 68 yards through the air.
"We really challenged the defense this week and they answered the call tonight," Douglas head coach Mike Rippee said. "They got out there and got after it.
"We're going to have to play like that this year, use our special teams and our defense to get out offense in a position to make the plays."
Ryan Guzman recorded a sack and forced a fumble, Brent Koontz had an interception and Ryan Pruitt and James Barnard each had a number of tough hits to lead the Tiger defense in the game. Of the four, only Koontz started for the Tigers last season.
Williams, seeing the first varsity playing time of his career, was forced into duty after Tiger starting quarterback Roman Davis went down with a hip injury early in the fourth quarter.
Reed tied up the game at seven with a 16-yard run from fullback Jake Russo two minutes into the period and Davis went down shortly after that.
After Reese Kizer gained 19 yards on two carries, Williams pulled back from the Douglas 43 yard-line and threw a strike to Brady, who had beaten his man down the left sideline. Brady sprinted the final 25 yards into the end zone.
"Coach just told me to keep an eye on the corner, to see if he'd ride in a bit," Williams said. "If he did, then I was supposed to send D.J. out on a seam. I just threw it out there and D.J. did the rest.
"I was scared, but it turned out all right. I was just trying to do my job. There is no replacing Roman but I did my best to fill in for him."
Davis was taken off the field in an ambulance, but Rippee said the paramedics told him the quarterback would be OK.
"We obviously hope everything is OK with Roman," Rippee said. "He was doing a great job for us tonight, and he was frustrated to have to leave. Those hip injuries are potentially very painful.
"For Jake, that was just a case of him being ready. That's an example of a kid putting the work in during practice and keeping a positive attitude. When we called on him, he was able to do his job."
At the time he left, Davis had rushed for 20 yards on six carries and passed for 51 yards on eight completions.
Pruitt punched in a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter after Tyler Tinstman brought the team down the field on carries of 14, 2, 5, and 4 yards.
Chris Balcom caught two passes for 20 yards in his first varsity action, and Tinstman finished the night with 75 yards on 19 carries, also seeing his first varsity action. Such was the case with Reese Kizer and Julius Bailey, who rushed for 29 yards and six yards respectively. Pruitt finished the night with 19 yards on six carries.