R-C Sports Notebook: Depth will be the wildcard

Something that has been somewhat lost along the way during the Douglas volleyball team's remarkable season is the one thing that could end up carrying the Tigers seamlessly through the playoffs.

Simply put, Douglas' depth is unparalled by any other team in the state.

There are 14 players on the Tigers' roster this season and all 14 have seen significant playing time throughout (In fact, with few exceptions the entire team has played in every match).

Coach Suzi Townsell talked at the beginning of the season about last year's regional championship loss to Reno and how she kept looking down the bench for a spark. This year, there has always been someone ready to step up.

Everyone on the roster has registered statistics in the kill, ace, service point and dig columns and all but the defensive specialists have popped up in the blocks category. Ten different players have assists.

That's nice enough, but take into consideration that if you took the top six in each point-scoring category off the floor, the remainder of the team would still be averaging 3.3 kills, 5.7 blocks and 2.1 aces per match. That's without the top six.

Not bad, but think about this as well: Douglas has had four different players lead the team in kills for at least one match this season, six different players lead the team in blocks and seven different players lead the team in aces.

Simply put, anyone on the Tiger roster is capable of contributing under fire and anyone can catch fire for the team at any time. When all cylinders are clicking, they are simply untouchable. But even when only a couple are clicking, the Tiger 14 are still the top complete team in the region.

With Douglas' two touchdowns in the final 30 seconds of the first half Thursday night against South Tahoe, it got me thinking.

The Tigers have been exceptionally good in the second quarter this year, outscoring their opponents 120-53. Offensively, that means 41 percent of Douglas' scoring has come in the second quarter this season.

But the really telling thing is how the Tigers have been able to move the ball, and how potent the offense has been, inside the two-minute range.

Douglas has seven touchdowns this season scored within two minutes before halftime. On five of those, the drive started within the two-minute mark.

As a nod to the defense, four of those drives started because of turnovers the Tiger defense caused within that two-minute mark.

It's a subtle statistic, but it means that the Tigers have been consistently carrying a large amount of momentum with them into locker room this year.

That is generally bad news for opponents as Douglas traditionally considers itself a second-half team.

While the Tigers do hold a 130-83 advantage in the second half this year, it is safe to say they are also quite the second-quarter team.

- Douglas quarterback Tim Rudnick broke the school marks for passing yards in a season (2,108) and passing touchdowns in a season (19) with his 207 yards and two TDs Thursday against South Tahoe. He broke the school record for completions in a season earlier in the year and that number now stands at 133.

He will not be able to break any of the career passing marks, but stands in second in yardage and touchdowns and needs five completions against Carson to move into second on that list.

- Douglas senior Ally Freitas actually has a shot at the state and school career goals marks with a maximum two games remaining.

Carson's Brandi Vega wrapped up her career Saturday with 59 goals as the Senators lost 1-0 to Reed. The school record belongs to Morgan LeFever at 56.

I've got Freitas for 50 career goals, but going back through my files, I found was missing complete statistics that could push Freitas over the top.

I'm missing stats from five games in the beginning of the 2007 season (last year), a 2-0 win over North Tahoe, a 1-1 tie with to Reed, a 2-0 loss to McQueen, a 6-0 win over Fallon and a 6-0 win over Wooster.

That's 15 Douglas goals I have unaccounted for. With Freitas' 16 goals that I do have an account for from that year, it stands to reason that she had at least some of those unaccounted 15. Anyone with any recollection or stats from those games is greatly encouraged to contact me at 782-5121, or jcrandall@recordcourier.com with the information. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

- I've never noticed this before, but the fire extinguisher is conspicuously missing from its box on the north wall of the Douglas High gym. It appears to have been gone for quite some time.

- How much cooler would the South Tahoe football team's uniforms be if they'd just go ahead and add that Viking horn to their helmets?

- The Douglas football team's last seven losses over the past three seasons have come on artificial turf.

- With his 20-yard touchdown catch Thursday night, Douglas receiver Austin Neddenriep became the team's first sophomore to score a touchdown since Brock Peterson did it in 2005.

Who was the first team the Douglas girls' soccer team ever beat?

It's not so much that it was a great play, but it was pretty bizarre. Douglas kicker Niko Vasquez chipped a field goal attempt high and a South Tahoe defender attempted to field it Friday night. The ball fell through his hands, skittered toward the sidelines and was in the possession of at least two other players before Douglas finally recovered the ball (by rule, it counts as a change of possession fumble, kind of like a muffed punt). A couple plays later, Douglas scored its first touchdown of the game.

- Yerington volleyball beats Carson. I realize this was a non-league match, and it did go to five games, but this was still a bit of a shocker with Carson coming off big wins against Manogue and Galena late in the year. I still expect the Senators to upset Reno in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday night.

- Elko girls' soccer beats South Tahoe in penalty kicks. This was almost my not-so-much, because the book on South Tahoe all year was that they had an impressive defense and little offense. The fact that the game was scoreless through two overtimes before going to penalty kicks wasn't terribly surprising, and when a game shifts to penalty kicks it really is the team that gets the best break that wins. However, I need four surprises and given the respective rankings of these teams, this qualifies.

- High volleyball seeds get home playoff matches. Call me oblivious (because I often am), but this one totally snuck up on me. I even looked at the bracket a couple weeks ago, saw Manogue as the host site and thought that meant for the entire tournament. Apparently, the switch was made in September. Surprising as it was to learn the top two seeds from each league would get to host their first-round matches, it makes perfect sense. It adds a little more incentive to get in those top two spots. It's something that's already been employed in basketball and baseball. The NIAA says that we may see the same setup for softball in the future, although not in 2009.

- Jordan Cruz suits up for Douglas football. I had to double-check to see that the No. 32 suited up for Douglas against South Tahoe was indeed Cruz. I'd thought he was out for the year with a shoulder injury, but after seeing a doctor, Cruz was told to get his shoulder padded up real well and he'd be OK to play. The result was a tremendous boost to the running game (he ran for 139 yards and 3 touchdowns and caught another one) and an even bigger boost to the Tigers' hopes once the playoffs role around. With Johnny Pollack getting these two weeks to rest up his injuries, Douglas is looking at having its two-pronged running attack back to go with its potent aerial offense.

- Not-so-much. Sierra League boys' soccer sweeps round one. High Desert League teams have now only managed two playoff victories in the past five seasons. Neither one of those (Elko in 2005 and Reed in 2007) made it past the semifinals.

A lot is made of the High Desert League's "domination" in football, but I think the deepest fall sports league is Sierra League boys' soccer. Remember last year's regional champs and regional runners-up (Douglas and South Tahoe) didn't even make the playoffs this year, despite each fielding talented squads.

If I had a vote for overall player of the year in the Northern 4A Regional football honors ballots (and I don't), this is what it would look like, based mostly on their respective performances over the last week:

1. Kyle Van Noy, McQueen; 2. Tyler York, McQueen, 3. Patrick Riggs, Manogue; 4. Tim Rudnick, Douglas; 5. Ray Daniels, Damonte Ranch

"It's a combination spatula-thermometer. You don't see that every day," Price is Right

The top athletes, regardless of sport, at Douglas High determined by production during competition, overall value to their team, ability to perform with consistency in routine situations, performance compared to others at the same position throughout the state/region, ability to come up big in clutch situations, versatility, attitude, sportsmanship, overall athletic ability, heart, potential at the next level, and a host of other intangibles (emotional leadership, role-playing value, work ethic, etc.) This is all, of course, just my opinion.

Fall Sports

1. Bethany Wurster, golf

2. Amelia Ritger, tennis

3. Megan Mitchell, volleyball

4. Tanner Thomas, football

5. Tim Rudnick, football

6. Ally Freitas, soccer

7. Tia Lyons, soccer

8. Taylor Biaggi, cross country

9. Taryn Williams, volleyball

10. Ross Gardner, soccer

If there were more spots on the list: Alex Laing, soccer; Jourdan Burke, volleyball; Katie Dry, girls' soccer; Johnny Pollack, football; Jessica Waggoner, volleyball; James TenBroeck, tennis; Parker Robertson, football; Brian Randall, soccer; Mysta Townsell, volleyball; Mackenzie Cauley, soccer.

After watching "World Series Game 5, Part II, The Legend of Curly's Gold", I have to say Fox's idea of showing the consecutive reaction shots of all nine Phillies' starters, along with the ownership, coaches and several other individuals after the final out was recorded, was an interesting and unique idea.

By reaction No. 7, though, I honestly thought they were going to show each and every spectator in the crowd as well. And, possibly varied Philadelphia sports bars and home audiences as well. The broadcast would've ended sometime this morning.

That extra hour of Daylight Savings Time sleep loses a bit of its luster when your alarm clock weighs 27 pounds and sleeps in the next room.

No real harm done by picking based on which mascot would win in a fight. I still ended up right about .500. This week we'll go with best uniforms.

You can still sign up for the weekly contest at www.recordcourier.profootball.upickem.net.

Congratulations to the week 9 winner, Richard Torres.

Here are my picks for week 10:

Broncos over Browns (Seeing as how everyone, including Douglas High, has copied Denver's template in the years since they introduced it ... Bonus points for the orange jerseys back in the 80s and 90s).

Saints over Falcons (I like both about equal, but I dinged Atlanta for ditching the old red uniforms for the Darth Vader look).

Bears over Titans (I'll automatically go with the teams that have stuck with a certain look for a long period of time)

Lions over Jaguars (The lion logo is among the best in football)

Texans over Ravens (I kind of like the crazy flag/cowhead thing)

Dolphins over Seahawks (I love Seattle's helmets, but I have to go with my "classic look" provision)

Packers over Vikings (Again, the classic football look comes into play. )

Bills over Patriots (Why New England ever got rid of the hiking pilgrim, I don't know)

Rams over Jets (St. Louis is right up there with Detroit in terms of best helmets)

Panthers over Raiders (Outside of a little teal, there's not much difference between the two)

Steelers over Colts (Two classic looks, but you have to give points to a team that only thinks it needs logos on side of their helmets)

Chiefs over Chargers (I'm still mad at the Chargers for gravitating toward the Air Force look)

49ers over Cardinals (Especially if the Niners go back to the old school look like they did last time they played)

Tiebreaker: Giants 21, Eagles 14 (Classic look wins out once again)

Season record: 65-65. Record last week: 8-6. Season survivor: Out.

With election day upon us, I'm really starting to rethink that presidential candidate tattoo.

- This one is a couple weeks old, so it is hardly news, but MSNBC (and a whole lot of other outlets) is reporting that Roane State Community College will have a 73-year-old basketball player on its roster this season. Yup, 73. It's actually a pretty interesting story (I'll let you do the search). It certainly gave me hope for my college curling comeback.

- We all know about the survivors from the front section of flight 815. We were also all shocked upon learning of the rag-tag group of survivors from the tail section of the plane in season two.

This season, it will be revealed that the wing-eating troll from the Twilight Zone's "Nightmare at 20,000 feet" also survived the crash. The big shocker? It has been masquerading amongst the castaways as Hurley for the last five seasons (see the photo above).

Douglas won its program debut 9-0 at Incline in 1992. The Lady Tigers had their first loss in the next game, a 4-1 setback at home against eventual regional champ Wooster and went 6-3-2 in their first season.


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