This Tiger team will have a lasting legacy in Minden and Gardnerville.
The Douglas High School football team turned back-to-back 1-8 seasons into an 8-1 campaign, locking up the Northern Class 5A Div. III league title with a game remaining in the regular season.
“First time any of us have done that. It feels wonderful,” said senior tight end Kyle Koontz.
A 28-0 win over Wooster allowed the Tigers to continue to showcase their near perfect run on defense in league play.
In the league opener September 22, Galena got within 10 points, 31-21, with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter.
Douglas hasn’t given up a point since and has now reached 13 consecutive quarters without allowing anything but a ‘0’ on the opposing side of the scoreboard.
Estes has a field day
Senior Trace Estes has been a staple in all three phases of Douglas’ success this season.
He punts, he plays defense and he hauls in touchdown catches.
Saturday, he did all three.
With five seconds remaining in the opening quarter, Jackson Ovard floated a perfect end zone corner fade to his senior wideout, who went up and snagged his first touchdown of the day.
The 12-yard touchdown reception was Estes’ sixth this fall.
“Coach said lets take a shot. I knew I was going to get it,” said Estes. “Jackson threw a great ball and I went up as high as I could.”
He grabbed another with 4:12 left to go in the game, cutting across the middle.
After the catch, Estes sidestepped the lone defender and waltzed in for a 50-yard touchdown that put the game on ice.
He may have already iced it after tracking down an attempted Wooster touchdown pass for an interception five plays earlier.
“He beat me on the breaking point of his route. I ran as fast as I could, turned around and that ball was still in the air,” Estes said.
The senior added a 44-yard punt in the third quarter, also.
Douglas’ other two scores came from the state’s leading running back Connor Jackson, who had touchdown runs of 4 and 44 yards – his 22nd and 23rd rushing touchdowns of the season.
Doing a little bit of everything
Koontz was all over the field Saturday as well.
When he wasn’t breaking up plays, Koontz was on special teams plowing through the Colts line.
He recorded a pair of blocked punts and combined for a sack with Trevor Shaver.
Aaron Tekansik also recorded a sack in the win.
Cole Smalley nearly stalled one Wooster drive by himself.
On Wooster’s first offensive series in the second half, the senior linebacker crushed a Colt ballcarrier on third-and-4, forcing a fumble.
Wooster was able to muster a two-yard gain on the recovery, but opted to test Smalley and the Tiger defense on fourth down at Douglas’ 32.
The senior captain manhandled his way through the Colt offensive line, stopping another run play in its tracks for a two-yard tackle for loss and a turnover on downs.
“We have a lot of senior leaders. With Cole Smalley, Sage Adie and Trevor (Shaver) now,” said Koontz. “We just want to come out and we just want to hit.”
Elsewhere on defense, Austin Dekruyf, Owen Evans, and Estes all had at least one pass breakup in the win as well.
“Everyone doubts us. We just come out here week by week and prove them wrong. Our defense is legit,” said Estes.
(Douglas High senior Kyle Koontz (99) blocks a punt, during the Tigers' 28-0 win over Wooster Saturday. Koontz had a pair of punt blocks and half a sack as Douglas locked up the league championship / Ron Harpin)
It doesn’t matter how next week goes.
Even a loss to Carson won’t dethrone Douglas High from being the Northern Class 5A Div. III league champs as they hold the tiebreaker over Wooster and Galena with wins over both foes.
After back-to-back seasons of 1-8, Douglas has accomplished a feat likely only they believed in.
“Unreal, honestly,” said Estes. “Coming from two 1-8 seasons, the feeling of accomplishment is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”
Due to new NIAA realignment rules this fall, Douglas will be promoted to Class 5A Div. II next season thanks to winning the league title. The Tigers will be replaced by either Reno or McQueen, depending on who loses this coming Friday.
UP NEXT: Carson comes to town Friday at 7p.m.
Stay on the lookout Wednesday for a special print edition for the 100th anniversary of the Carson-Douglas rivalry.