R-C Sports Notebook: Running backs, set backs and Heisman frontrunners | RecordCourier.com

R-C Sports Notebook: Running backs, set backs and Heisman frontrunners

by Joey Crandall

It was nice to see Douglas senior Ryen Ake come up with his second big game of the year against the North Valleys football team last week.

Ake put up over 400 yards rushing in the last two weeks along after being held to 35 against Reed in the season-opener.

He’s a talented running back that may have the best field vision out of any of the feature backs the Tigers have had over the past five or six years.

He takes what the offensive line gives him to work with and he builds on it. He showed a lot of creativity with his cuts and downfield reads. If he gets into the open field, he’ll be tough to bring down this year.

But perhaps the more important development last week was sophomore Conner Peterson establishing himself as a competent complimentary back.

Peterson became the first sophomore to rush for 100-plus yards at Douglas in at least 20 years — most likely more as it is exceptionally rare for Douglas to use an underclassman as a running back at the varsity level. According to R-C records, the last three sophomores to play running back for the Tigers were Peterson’s older brother Brock (2005-07), Dusty Cooper (2001-03) and Lamont McCann (1980-83).

Here’s the top positive to take out of a tough situation last week:

The Douglas girls’ soccer team’s loss to Carson was a tough setback last week. However, the feeling was that Douglas played for the win, Carson played for the tie and the Senators got a lucky bounce late that led to the decisive goal.

This marks the second consecutive year Douglas has suffered a setback in its first 10 games after a blazing start.

But anyone will tell you, in hindsight, they’d much rather have this happen early in the year rather than late, especially at the high school level. Once a team learns it’s not invincible, it generally plays that much harder to not have to learn that lesson again.

Douglas avenged that early loss last year three times over, including in the regional and state playoffs. Carson is the type of team the Tigers could see that many more times this year, so it’s better to have game film to dissect as to what went wrong, rather than playing out the rest of the year not having tangible evidence of weaknesses.

– The Douglas football team is kicking off from the left hash this season. Combined with their scramble charge approach, it provides a lot of interesting options for the kicking game.

– After losing to Yerington at home two weeks ago, the Tiger volleyball team has rattled off five consecutive sweeps. Manogue Thursday night will obviously be a huge test.

– The Douglas girls’ soccer team has only two losses on a natural grass playing surface over the past 3 years. They’ve won 31 of their last 34 on natural grass and tied once. The two losses were at Galena last September.

– Douglas placekicker Nate VonAhsen is perfect on PAT attemps this year, going 12-for-12 on attempts he actually got to take. The one failed PAT this season was on a bobbled snap at Manogue and VonAhsen never had the chance to kick it.

– Bethany Wurster’s four-under 68 at Genoa Lakes on Monday was just two off her school and state record score of 6-under 66 at Genoa Lakes in 2008.

FOOTBALL

1. Carson (Last Week: beat Hug 43-10. Previous Ranking: No. 2;

Record: 3-0, 2-0)

Why they should be No. 1: There was no question about the offense coming into the Hug game, but the North Valleys game did raise some questions about the defense. Consider those answered after the Senators absolutely stifled a Hug offense that I still believe represents one of the strongest rushing teams in the Northern 4A.

Why they should be ranked lower: The league seems to be dividing into an upper five or six and a bottom six or five. Carson hasn’t seen anyone in that upper half yet. It’s not a reason to be ranked lower, but it is a question mark. The Manogue game this week will be huge as to showing where the Senators actually stand.

2. Reed (Last week: Beat No. 1 McQueen 28-7. Previous Ranking: 5. Record: 3-1, 2-0)

Why they should be ranked higher: I said last week that beating McQueen would really shake up the power rankings, and it has. Reed is the only team in this week’s top 5 with a win over a ranked opponent. And you really can’t overstate what the Raider defense did to McQueen. The Raiders are in incredible position through the next six weeks with Manogue on Oct. 1 and possibly Spanish Springs in the finale being their toughest remaining tests. I’m waiting to see how the Manogue-Carson game shakes out, but the Raiders would easily jump to No. 1 with a Carson stumble this week.

Why they should be ranked lower: The defense has been solid all year, particularly against McQueen and Douglas, but the offense is remains a bit of a question mark. They’re consistently putting up scores in the 20s, but that is not the typical Reed attack. The Manogue game in two weeks is particularly troubling because the Miners will create turnovers and a game like that could go any way.

3. Manogue (Last week: beat Reno ??-??. Previous Ranking: 4. Record: 4-0,

2-0)

Why they should be ranked higher: I’m not betting against quarterback Zach McElroy this season. The senior has good size, good arm strength and good pocket presence, which is nice. But he is also one of the better clutch playmakers I’ve seen in the last five years. Add to it a deep stable of solid running backs and the Manogue offense is a formidable challenge for anyone.

Why they should be ranked lower: The Miners have as tough a schedule as anyone in the next five weeks, with Carson and Reed posing the biggest obstacles. It doesn’t help that Manogue sees them in succession over the next two weeks. This week’s Senator-Miner showdown could be one of the best games of the year. If they somehow emerge from this stretch unscathed, they’re easily a No. 1 team. But that is a huge ‘if.’

4. McQueen (Last Week: lost to Reed 28-7. Previous Ranking: No. 1;

Record: 3-1, 1-1)

Why they should be ranked higher: The stumble was against a team that very well could be the best in the area. Who’s to say the Lancers aren’t No. 2? Or No. 3? They still held the Raider offense in check and if nothing else, a loss early in the season could wake a sleeping giant.

Why they should be ranked lower: McQueen is living off its running game this year, which makes the Douglas matchup this week pretty interesting as the Tiger run defense is quickly morphing into one of the best in the area. That could force the Lancers to the air, where Douglas has new-found confidence after finding a way to shut down the North Valleys Air-Raid last week. How McQueen is able to respond to the Reed loss will speak volumes about where they belong in the rankings, because it does not get any easier from here.

5. Spanish Springs (Last week: beat Damonte Ranch 49-20. Previous Ranking: 5.

Record 4-0, 2-0)

Why they should be ranked higher: The offense has been a pleasant surprise this season while the defense has held serve. They should be 5-0 after the Reno game this week, which could mean a bump up in rankings.

Why they should be ranked lower: I’ll point it out again, the Cougars haven’t even begun to see the thick of the Northern 4A yet. They close out with McQueen, Carson, Douglas and Reed, meaning they could very realistically finish the regular season 5-5.

On the outside looking in: Douglas, Reno.

VOLLEYBALL

1. Douglas

2. Manogue

3. Carson

4. Galena

5. Damonte Ranch

On the outside looking in: Reno, Spanish Springs.

BOYS’ SOCCER

1. Carson

2. Galena

3. North Valleys

4. Spanish Springs

5. Reno

On the outside looking in: Wooster, Hug.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

1. Carson

2. Douglas

3. Reno

4. Galena

5. Spanish Springs

On the outside looking in: Manogue, Damonte Ranch.

– Nice job on the logo redesign Pac-10. Did you do that before, or after you added two schools? (Turns out it was after. Conference officials say the logo will be converted from a 10 to a 12 next year. I’m sure that thrills the University of Oregon, which installed the new logo with a 10 on its new field turf this summer).

I know, I know. It looks really cool when a defensive player lights a guy up so badly that his helmet pops off right off his head.

But in reality it has so much less to do with the force of the hit and so much more to do with a guy’s failure to buckle a helmet on right. All it means is that he didn’t snap his chin strap to the back pair of fasteners on his helmet or he didn’t tighten it down against his chin.

Odds are, if the same guy tripped and fell flat on his face while sprinting full speed, the helmet would fly off just as explosively.

Now that would be an awesome highlight reel.

After Michigan’s big win over Notre Dame two weeks ago, the collective media anointed Wolverine QB Denard Robinson the Heisman Trophy front-runner.

My first though was, “Seriously?”

Don’t get me wrong. Robinson is a great talent.

But he’s put up all these big numbers against a UConn team that has started out 1-2 with its win coming against Texas Southern, a Notre Dame team that hasn’t been able to stop the run in five years and FCS school UMass.

Apparently, that’s what it takes to be the Heisman frontrunner these days. I’m more curious to see if his name is still in the mix after Ohio State (Nov. 27). Or Iowa (Oct. 16). Penn State (Oct. 30) or Wisconsin (Nov. 20) for that matter.

In other news, Alabama’s defending Heisman winner Mark Ingram carried seven times for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns — in the first half — on a surgicaly repaired knee against Duke in his season-debut Saturday.

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Visit recordcourier.com/profootball to sign up and make your picks.

Last week’s winner: Samantha Thurm, Minden. 12-of-16 picks.

My Week 3 picks:

Niners over Chiefs

Lions over Vikings

Patriots over Bills

Falcons over Saints

Giants over Titans

Ravens over Browns

Texans over Cowboys

Steelers over Bucs

Bengals over Panthers

Eagles over Jaguars

Rams over Redskins

Colts over Broncos

Cardinals over Raiders

Chargers over Seahawks

Packers over Bears

Tiebreaker: Jets 21, Dolphins 14

Season Record: 11-5. Last week: 11-5.

Time for this week’s installment of Edd Roush’s All-Stars (Formerly “This Wacky World of Sports”) – Celebrating Edd Roush, the only player ever ejected from a Major League Baseball game for sleeping in the outfield.

This is how I always pictured my high school football career going (It gets interesting about 1:32):

– Last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga asking that the school’s fishing team be disbanded, citing that fish are intlligent animals who feel pain just as all animals do. They went on to say that “Sanctioning the maiming and killing of fish for ‘sport’ sends the message that violence toward others is acceptable.”

To the UTC chancellor dictated this reply to his secretary:

“Dear PETA, Football is a wonderful, storied team sport that carries certain dangers with it due to the contact nature of the game. While there are inevitably violent encounters, on the whole it … What’s that? They’re upset about the fishing team? You mean this isn’t about football? We have a fishing team? Who do they play against, Captain Ahab?”