It doesn’t get any simpler for the Dayton High football team.
Beat Elko and Fernley and have a shot at the playoffs. Split or lose twice and winter sports teams will pick up some players earlier than expected.
The road starts tonight when the Dust Devils (5-3, 4-3) visit Elko (6-1, 6-1) in a critical Northern Division I contest. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.
Had Dayton taken care of business at South Tahoe (a 28-2 loss which is the Vikings’ only win), the scenario facing the Dust Devils would be a tad different.
“The loss at South Tahoe really killed us,” Dayton coach Rob Turner said. “If we beat Elko and Fernley and get some help we might get in. It’s going to be tough.
“Elko is big and strong. They play tough football, and like most of us, they run first. We have to lay some good gap control defense. Jason Wilson (596 yards, 10 TDs) is very good. He torched us last year.”
The Indians have used two quarterbacks this year — Jacob Conklin (447 yards, 4 TDs) and Alex Puentes (387 yards. 5 TDs). Puentes is also a threat to run as his 417 yards rushing with four scores would suggest. Nate Klekas is the top receiver with 15 catches for 339 yards and five scores.
“We put in some new things defensively because we faced throwing teams, but we’ll go back to our base defense. We need to get some three and outs this week.”
The Dust Devils enter the game without the bulldozing Quinn Santana at fullback. He’s likely out for the season and tight end Jaret Reed is out of town because of a baseball commitment. Not a great time for either of those players not to be available.
The good news is safety-running back John Aguilar is back. He missed last week’s game because of a family commitment.
Davis Winebarger, coming off a finger injury threw for 99 yards and a score against Wooster last week.
“I thought Davis played well last week,” Turner said. “The injured finger doesn’t seem to bother him, and he’s looked really good in practice.”
Skyler Berntson is over 1,000 yards for the season, and the Dust Devils need a big game from him in order to control the ball on the ground.