Douglas’ Connor Jackson against Galena on Sept. 19, 2022 in Minden.
Photo by Ron Harpin.
The Northern Region high school football season has hit its halfway point, with most teams now turning their attention toward their upcoming league seasons.
Here’s a look back at the highs and lows of the first half of the 2022 season, along with a look ahead at what’s coming up as the region’s teams begin to fight for playoff spots.
Midseason watch list
Some of the players who have made big impacts in the first half of the 2022 season include:
• At Douglas, Connor Jackson has run for 367 yards and three scores; receivers Trace Estes and Kyle Koontz have combined for 21 receptions. Cole Smalley is averaging more than 14 tackles per game.
• At Carson, Marcus Montes has worked hard for all of his 242 yards rushing. Versatile Parker Story has lined up all over the field; he’s compiled 179 rushing yards, along with 488 all-purpose yards. Isaac Avina averages 41.5 yards per punt for the Senators.
• In Reno, Bishop Manogue’s Logan Howren has emerged as the top quarterback in the region, throwing for 1,196 yards and 17 touchdowns. Galena’s Ben Primka is connecting on more than 65 percent of his attempts. On the other side of the ball, teammate John Solaro is the region’s leading tackler (62).
Reno’s Drew Dutton leads 5A receivers with 24 receptions.
• In Sparks, Reed quarterback Dakota Dunlap has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 844 yards and five TDs. Teammate Spencer Firebaugh is making a play to become the state’s top rusher; he has 904 yards and 13 TDs at the midseason point.
5A report card
Despite an 0-2 start, Bishop Manogue has established itself as the team to beat in the 5A North.
After dropping games to Bingham (Utah) and Jesuit (Calif.) — who are a combined 8-2 currently — the Miners have had their way with Northern Nevada teams, beating Reed, McQueen and Reno by a combined 137-53 score.
Galena has been the season’s biggest surprise. Entering the season with a 16-game losing streak, the Grizzlies are 4-1 and have yielded only 53 points on defense.
At the other end of the scale, neither Carson nor Douglas got off to the sort of starts they’d hoped for, joining defending 5A North champion McQueen at 1-4 overall and 0-2 in league games. Damonte Ranch enters the weekend winless after opening with a challenging non-conference schedule of two California teams and Las Vegas-based Faith Lutheran.
The preliminaries are over for the region’s 12 3A teams, who will now switch their focus to league games.
In the East Division, Lowry (4-0) is one of the nine unbeaten teams left in the state. The Buckaroos have been led by running back Jesse Jeronimo (502 yards, four TDs) and a receiving corps with four players between four and eight catches.
Elko (4-1) and Spring Creek (3-1) both got off to fast starts. The Indians and Spartans meet Oct. 21 in a key game that will also settle bragging rights in Elko County.
In the West Division, Truckee (3-1) has been its usual steady self. Hug, at 2-2, is much improved; the Hawks began the season by breaking a 40-game losing streak.
Out-of-state report card
With league season set to really heat up all over Northern Nevada, the region’s games against out-of-state competition are basically done for the season (Galena does play McKay [Ore.] on Saturday).
Here’s how Northern Region teams combined to fare against non-Nevada competition:
• Vs. California: 4-11
• Vs. Others: 0-1
• Best results: Reno beat two California invaders, overpowering Linden, 34-6, and stopping Grant, 30-21
• Locally: Both Carson and Douglas went 1-1 against California opponents. The Senators got past Calaveras, 14-0, and the Tigers opened the season with a 20-0 win over Argonaut.
Rivalry game, with asterisk
Carson and Douglas meet Oct. 14 in Carson City to continue the state’s most tradition-rich rivalry. Oddly, it will not be the final regular-season game for the Tigers, who will host Spanish Springs a week later.
Blame the nine-team format in the 5A North, which ensures that one team per week will be on a bye.
The low point
Once again, the region’s fall sports teams could not escape the fallout from poor air quality from California wildfires, although the impact — so far — hasn’t been as bad as it’s been in some recent years.
Along with a handful of missed games, the big headline for Northern Region football is the scramble that happened from Sept. 15-17, which saw smoke pouring into the region and teams in the western part of the state searching for solutions to get their games played.
In the end, most of the 5A ended up playing on the following Monday. Due to the NIAA’s “five-day window” — no player can participate in two football games in a five-day period — the 5A schedule shifted by a day and now features four games on Saturday, Sept. 24.
Ten games to watch
Here’s the 10 upcoming games that will go a long way toward determining league champions and playoff spots:
• 5A: Reed at Spanish Springs (Oct. 14); Spanish Springs at Bishop Manogue (Sept. 24); Bishop Manogue at Galena (Sept. 30); Douglas at Carson (Oct. 14); Reno at Damonte Ranch (Sept. 24)
• 3A: Elko at Fallon (Oct. 7); Fallon at Lowry (Oct. 21); Elko at Spring Creek (Oct. 21)
• 2A: Pershing County at Battle Mountain (Oct. 21)
• 1A: Virginia City at Pyramid Lake (Oct. 27)
Spanish Springs at Manogue, 10 a.m.
Reno at Damonte Ranch, 10 a.m.
Carson at McQueen, 11 a.m.
McKay (Ore.) at Galena, 4 p.m.
Douglas at Reed, 5:30 p.m.