Douglas football team finishes non-league schedule with loss to McQueen
The Douglas football team finished its non-league schedule with a 38-0 loss to the McQueen Lancers on Friday at Keith Roman Field.
The Tigers (2-2) will open Sierra League play on Saturday at South Tahoe.
Douglas head coach Mike Rippee said his team learned a lot in the first four games of the season. The key, he added, will be calling on that experience in crucial situations during the next five weeks, when wins and losses will determine which four of the six Sierra League teams will advance to the playoffs.
Unlike the High Desert League, where McQueen and Elko (both 4-0) are helmets and shoulder pads above the other four teams (a combined 1-15), the Sierra League championship appears to be up for grabs.
“The next five weeks should be real interesting in our division,” Rippee said. “You have any one of six teams that can step up and win the thing if they get hot and play well. Any week could end up being the championship week. Every division win is going to be real important.
“We have the ability. We can beat anybody the rest of the way and anybody can beat us, too. It’s going to be a dogfight from here on out.”
And while four Sierra League teams will advance to the postseason, only the top two will have much cause for celebration. The third- and fourth-place finishers likely will earn trips to McQueen and Elko for the first round of the playoffs.
McQueen and Elko handed the Tigers their two non-league losses.
“I think we’ve played the best two teams in the other league,” Rippee said. “At times, we showed we could play with either one of them, but they don’t count those times. You have to play the whole game. That’s what we have to focus on, 48 minutes.
“We need to get better if we’re going to do anything in the postseason. I sure don’t want to look at finishing third or fourth and then having to go to either one of those places unless we get a lot better. And if we get a lot better, we won’t finish third or fourth.”
In wins over Galena and Fallon, the Tigers have shown the ability to move the ball on offense and the ability to play stifling defense. They were shut out in both losses, but held Elko to its lowest point total in the 14-0 setback.
South Tahoe (3-1) enters Saturday’s game closer to the class of the McQueens and Elkos than the Galenas and Fallons, however. The Vikings lost a 42-31 thriller in Elko last Friday.
“South Tahoe is real explosive offensively,” Rippee said. “(Jake) Hurwitz is right up there with (McQueen running back Chris) Carr. He’s tough. He’s more physical than Carr is. He not only has the speed to beat you, but he’ll drop that shoulder. It’s not getting any easier for us with Hurwitz.
“They make their living off (plays of) 50 yards or more. If you score on them, they’ll try to go downtown right now. They’ve been real successful, even against Elko, who has a real good defense.”
South Tahoe quarterback Jarred Uppendahl threw for a career-high 378 yards against the Indians, three Vikings receivers finished with more than 100 yards and Hurwitz rushed for 114 yards.
“Defensively, we’re still trying to find the right combination,” Rippee said. “We’re still not playing well at certain spots.
“You have to play defense like McQueen does. You have to pin your ears back and go. They make mistakes, too, but they come so hard and they have all 11 guys on the same page so that they can make things happen.”
Offensively, the Tigers will almost certainly have to break out of a scoring slump that has seen them average fewer than 10 points in four games if they hope to keep pace with the Vikings.
“We have some good running backs,” Rippee said. “I think Jared (Kenison) has run the team very, very well and is starting to mature and be a proven quarterback.
“We have Gabe (Hatchett), who is as good as any receiver in the league, and Jordan (Ovard), too, has done some great things. The bottom line is we have to get clicking on offense. We have to put some points on the board.”