Douglas looks to break into win column at North Valleys
Despite its 0-3 start, a glance at the yardstick reveals the Douglas High football team has improved these past three weeks.
At least on the defensive side of the ball.
“We played better defense and we’re going to keep playing better,” coach Ernie Monfiletto said, referring to last Friday’s 26-20 loss at home against Spanish Springs. “I think the kids showed improvement from Rigby to Reed, and I thought we played outstanding against Spanish Springs. They played well enough for us to win.”
The Tigers are looking to break into the win column tonight when they visit North Valleys for a 7 p.m. non-league game in Reno. The Panthers are 0-2 — with losses against Bishop Manogue (60-13) and Galena (48-14) — and searching for their first win since ending the 2015 regular season with a 34-0 win over Hug.
Monfiletto and the Tigers are simply focused on their own progress leading up to what promises to be a critical Sept. 29 Sierra League opener against Bishop Manogue in Reno.
“We want to continue to battle,” Monfiletto said. “We don’t believe our record reflects our growth. I think we are a better team than we were in Week 1; we just need to do a better job of execution.”
As for that glance at the yardstick, Douglas allowed 259 yards in total offense — 156 rushing, 103 passing — in its loss against Spanish Springs. The Tigers surrendered 450-plus in a 34-6 loss at Reed on Sept. 1 and 500-plus yards on Aug. 25 in a 56-32 loss against Rigby in Pocatello, Idaho. Reed is 3-0, including a 35-0 win over Carson last week, while Rigby has surpassed 50 points in two games and is 3-0 overall.
Junior nose guard Alex Rice (6-1, 280) combines with Austin Aiken (6-3, 280) and Cody Freitas (6-1, 190) to give the Tigers a formidable three-man defensive line.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” said Rice, who saw extensive playing time last year at nose guard for a Sacramento Grant team that advanced to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff quarterfinals. “It’s going to get better. Our defense is just getting better and better each week … and each practice. Coach (Rod) Smalley is a really good coach. He’s always pushing us to do our best.”
Smalley serves as defensive coordinator on a defensive staff that also includes Rick McGuire (backs), Stormy Herald (line) and Ollie Herald (inside linebackers).
“The entire staff has worked extremely hard to build the defense and insure kids are in the right spot to make a play,” Monfiletto noted.
Offensively, the Tigers still have more work to do. They have scored 58 points in three games, however, only 19 of those have come in the second half. The Tigers have not scored in the third quarter.
“We’ve made some adjustments; we are doing everything we can to get better,” Monfiletto said. “We just need to execute the offense … running and throwing. It was about 50-50 (last week), but we need to be a little more lopsided in the run category.”
Devon Ryan caught five passes for 45 yards and a first quarter touchdown (he has five touchdowns this season). One key area where the Tigers are looking to improve is pass protection, as quarterback Hunter Hickey was sacked five times for 41 yards against Spanish Springs. Hickey was pressured on many other drop-backs on a night in which he went 12-for-27 with one interception and 128 yards.
Injury report: Junior offensive left tackle Anthony Munoz will be sidelined tonight due to a sprained knee and senior lineman Zach Romero is also recovering from a sprained knee. Both are expected to return this season. Romero blocked a PAT attempt in the fourth quarter against Spanish Springs.