DHS prepares for road trip to Elko
Forget the six-hour bus ride, traveling to play the Elko Indians involves more than overcoming the boredom of an extended road trip.
“History has it that Elko is always about two touchdowns better at home than they are on the road,” said DHS coach Mike Rippee, whose team makes the trip to Elko Friday. “And since they’re already good, that makes it even tougher.”
Rippee refused to place any significance on the amount of time his players will spend on the chartered bus prior to Friday’s kickoff.
“There are no excuses there,” he said. “Psychologically, they (the Indians) feel better playing at home.”
Think about it. The Tigers, and other opponents, have to travel to Elko just once this season. The Indians will play five road games this season, including three trips to the Reno area for games with McQueen, Wooster and Sparks.
Remember last season? Douglas whipped Elko, 52-28, at home, but survived a 45-42 shootout in the playoffs on the Indians’ turf.
The Tigers will try to build on a big win over Division II foe Hug High when they play the Division I Indians Friday.
One of the things that makes the Indians so tough is the way they execute their Wing-T offense, which tries to use misdirection and motion to confuse opposing defenses. A key player in that offense is lightning-quick junior running back Ryan Still.
Rippee said Still suffered a separated shoulder against Hug High two weeks ago and didn’t play last week.
“We plan on seeing the boy,” Rippee said of Still, who had an 88-yard touchdown run against the Tigers in the playoffs last season. “They have some weapons and their team speed is real good.”
And, as always, one of the best ways to defend a potent offense is to keep it on the sideline as much as possible. That’s a plan that should work well if the Tigers’ ball-control offense is executing.
“We feel we can run the ball against them,” Rippee said. “We just have to come out and do what we did against Hug, but I don’t want to get into a track meet with them. If we can keep the other team under 20 points, I think we have a shot at anybody.”
To achieve that objective, the Tigers will have to continue working on eliminating the little mistakes that stall drives, kill momentum and, ultimately, lose games.
Of particular concern to Rippee and his coaching staff is the recent ineffectiveness of the Tigers’ offense deep in enemy territory. In its last two games, Douglas has marched inside its opponent’s 25-yard line four times without scoring any points.
Rippee said he and his assistant coaches will address that problem in practice this week with a variety of situational drills.
“We’ve got to really focus on being a lot more crisp in our execution to get the ball in the end zone,” he said. “The offense is really focused and the defense we’re running against (in practice) has to step and help the offense get prepared. It’s a team effort.”
The loss of starting halfback Levi Shoda to a separated shoulder means senior Wes Naugle will get his shot at being the featured back in the Tigers’ ground attack. Shoda will be sidelined for Friday’s game and might miss next week’s Homecoming game with Wooster.
“I expect Wes to step up and have a big game,” Rippee said. “He played a lot of halfback coming up through the program, now he has the opportunity to step in and contribute.”
Coach: Bob Milligan, seven years (career record of 85-50, including 33-24 at Elko)
1997 record: 6-4 (state playoffs)
Defensive alignment: 4-4
Offensive alignment: Wing T
Key returners: Senior DB Bobby Steenan (6-1, 165); senior DB Alec Goicoechea (5-11, 150); senior DB/WR Tim Gilligan (5-8, 140); senior TE/LB Marcus Lesbo (6-3, 210); senior OT Lenny Morley (6-0, 220); senior OT Chad Venters (6-3, 275); junior DT Andy Thompson (5-11, 220); and junior RB/DB Ryan Still (5-11, 150)
Coach’s division forecast: 1. McQueen, 2. Reed, 3. Elko, 4. Galena, 5. Sparks, 6. Lowry
Coach’s pick to win state: McQueen
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