Tigers fought through rebuilding year

Remember, now, this was a rebuilding year.

After an eventful 2008 football campaign at Douglas High, it could be easy to forget that entering the year, the Tigers had only three starters back on offense and two back on defense.

With traditional state power Las Vegas coming to town to open the year and early season matchups at Reno and Reed, some thought Douglas would be lucky to enter league play with a win.

After going back-and-forth with Vegas before running out of time with the ball on the Douglas 40 and the score set at 41-25, the expectations for the Tigers quickly changed.

The Tigers rolled over Reno 23-6 the following week and came back from a bye week with a statement 40-13 win at Reed to vault themselves into consideration as one of the top teams in the Northern 4A.

Douglas coach Mike Rippee promised before the season started that his team would be airing it out more on offense and followed through as the Tigers posted marks of 373, 203 and 300 yards through the first three games.

A balanced run game, though, had Douglas consistently churning out total offense numbers in the 400- to 500-yard range over the first month.

League wins over Fallon on the road and against Galena in the Tigers' first home game in more than a month put Douglas on track for a league-title showdown with Manogue in Reno late in October.

It was a snow-riddled night at home against Damonte Ranch, however, that changed the season for the Tigers.

Douglas rumbled to a 27-17 win (the game wasn't as close as the scoreboard showed as the Tiger defense gave up just 24 yards on the ground and one touchdown) but lost a number of key player to injury.

The Tigers picked up a 49-6 win over Wooster the following week but the cast was simply no longer there to go toe-to-toe with Manogue.

The Miners rolled to a 47-13 win, decimating the Tiger run defense to the tune of 470 yards.

As if the loss weren't enough, Douglas also lost stalwart offensive/defensive lineman Ryan Moglich for the year in the game.

Running back Jordan Cruz returned from a shoulder injury in time to put up 139 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-6 win over South Tahoe and Douglas clawed out a 48-20 win over rival Carson to close out the regular season.

The injuries, and a much-improved Reed Raider squad, proved to be too much for the Tigers to overcome in the first round of the playoffs as Reed walked away with a 44-24 win.

So dramatic was the effect of the injuries this season that Douglas went with five different starting linebacker combinations, four different starting wide receiver combinations, four defensive line combinations and three offensive line combinations on the year.

The big plus, aside from the eight wins, home playoff game and re-writing of the school record books by quarterback Tim Rudnick and wide receiver Zach McFadden, was that it was indeed a rebuilding year.

Douglas managed to groom a large bumper crop of junior talent during the year and will enter next season with a good stock of returning veterans.

In the light of the injuries, Douglas also brought up three key sophomores who all saw starting time as the season rolled on.

The remainder of the junior varsity squad went 7-0 in league play and 8-1 overall. The incoming class of juniors has gone 17-1 through their first two seasons in orange and black and coach Mike Rippee has already designated them a special class.

Two of the bigger losses will be and McFadden. Rudnick finished the year with school single-season records in completions (157), passing yardage (2,550) and touchdowns (23).

His season passing yardage is fourth on the NIAA all-time state list and third among 4A players.

His season touchdown mark was good enough for No. 10 on the NIAA list and fourth among 4A players.

His career passing mark of 3,237 yards placed him second on the Douglas High list behind Luke Rippee and 10th on the NIAA list. His marks in career touchdowns (31) and completions (199) also finished behind Rippee on the school lists.

McFadden finished with the school single-season records in touchdown catches (9) and receiving yards (963).

Douglas also loses standout linemen Parker Robertson, Sam Barragan and Nick Mortenson on offense, as well as tight end Eric Guzman and wide receiver James McLaughlin.

On defense, the Tigers will have to replace Guzman on the end, tackles Robertson and Robbie O'Dell, linebackers Jeff Kelly and Barron Santiago and the entire defensive backfield of Nico Barker, Tanner Thomas, Davey Fisher and Brad Gonzales.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment