It’s been a new experience for Dayton High’s football team this week — outside practices.
Now, coach Rob Turner hopes the air quality continues to improve so that the Dust Devils can host their 1A opener at 7 p.m. today against Spring Creek.
The DHS coach did say should the weather not hold up, the team would more than likely play at Lovelock again on Friday night.
“My wife is a lot happier since we’ve been outside,” Turner said. “Coming home (after all the indoor practices) I’ve been pretty cranky.”
The two areas that Turner has spent most of the time on are tackling and special teams. The Dust Devils struggled in both areas in last week’s 33-16 loss to Lovelock.
“We missed tackles from the first snap to the final whistle last week,” Turner said. “We’ve been tackling everyday we’ve been outside. On our special teams, we’re working on blocking on kick returns, and we have the space to kick without a ceiling getting in the way.”
Offensively, the Dust Devils gained 285 yards in total offense — 137 through the air and 148 yards on the ground. If you watched Dust Devil football the last couple of years, you know that the 137 is a big step toward becoming a balanced offense. Quarterback Davis Winebarger did throw three interceptions in his first varsity start, but he did complete some good passes, too. Austin Fletcher broke loose for an 82-yard scoring run en route to a 132-yard effort. Lovelock did a nice job shutting down Skyler Berntson, holding down the speedy back to 21 yards on 11 carries.
“We’ve been working with Davis on pre-snap reads,” Turner said. “We’re going to see a lot of cover 2 this week. He has to see where the soft spots are. He’s a competitor and he wants to get better. Skyler bounced around last year between tight end and quarterback. We need to get him comfortable at this new spot. Skyler is fast, but he doesn’t have the power to blow through people like Austin does.”
Whether the outside work pays dividends remains to be seen. Turner feels that playing last week gives his team an advantage over Spring Creek, which elected not to play a Hall of Fame game. Spring Creek did have a scrimmage, while Dayton did not. The Dust Devils blanked Spring Creek, 22-0, last year in Elko to open the season.
“They are still a power running team, but they will throw the ball a little bit” Turner said. “I’ve been around football in the area off and on 12 years, and they are always tough.”