Douglas High lineman Michael Cahill makes a block during the Tigers’ 35-0 win over North Valleys in early October. Douglas and NV will meet in the Class 5A Div. III regional semifinals Friday night.
Photo by Carter Eckl.
Douglas High School football is two wins away from a Class 5A Div. III regional championship.
After earning the No. 1 seed and a first round bye, the Tigers will get back on the gridiron Friday night against No. 5 North Valleys.
The Panthers beat No. 4 Carson, 22-6, to setup the matchup with Douglas.
Friday night’s kickoff time has already been moved from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
In their first meeting this season at North Valleys, the Tigers had little in the way of issues, rolling to a 35-0 win.
Taking care of business
Anyone who saw the Panthers near shut out of Carson last Thursday knows that North Valleys is much improved from a few weeks ago.
When Douglas and North Valleys met in early October, it didn’t take long for the Tigers to jump out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Panthers have led after 12 minutes in all three of its games since their loss to Douglas.
“They’re going to have a ton of confidence and a ton of energy and they should,” said Douglas head coach Kyle Mays. “We are going to have to change things up a little bit. I think in the second half of the game last time they got some things figured out.”
North Valleys has had some success in the passing game this season and if the Tigers’ have shown any defensive miscues this season it’s been in the passing defense.
“Comparatively speaking, people have been able to throw the ball on us compared to running it,” said Mays.
That’s in part to nearly every team playing from behind against Douglas, but also the Tigers’ stout linebacking core of Cole Smalley and Aaron Tekansik.
North Valleys ran the ball 23 times for 72 yards in their first matchup with Douglas.
“TK (Tekansik) and Cole will just have to be spot on throughout the game,” said Mays.
Of course, it’s worth noting the Tigers have held opponents without a point in 17 straight quarters.
NV’s sophomore quarterback Mikole Almond has continued to look better and better, but the Tigers were able to intercept three passes in their first meeting this season.
Continuing to click on offense
Of course, if Douglas is on its game, the Panthers will have their hands full a week after getting their first postseason win in school history.
The Tigers’ premier back, Connor Jackson, tallied 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first meeting.
Jackson still leads the state with 1,891 rushing yards and is 55 yards away from breaking Douglas’ single-season rushing record set in 2004 (Spike Acosta; 1,945 yards in 11 games).
Kyle Koontz was another big playmaker in the first meeting, using his size and physicality to grab two touchdown passes and 79 receiving yards through the air.
Jackson Ovard threw some exceptional passes en route to a 8-of-13 performance for 100 yards and those two touchdown passes to Koontz.
Everyone knows we are a power run team,” said Mays. “Jackson takes very good advantage of his opportunities and he doesn’t get a lot.”
Senior wideout Trace Estes is another large body that is more than capable of breaking free in the secondary as well.
To purchase tickets, follow this link: https://www.niaa.com/tickets/index
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The winner of Douglas-North Valleys will take on the winner of No. 3 Wooster at No. 2 Galena for the regional championship on Friday, Nov. 10.