Football: Douglas can clinch playoff spot with win over Spanish Springs
Playoff positioning will be on the line tonight as Spanish Springs comes to town to face the Douglas football team at 7 p.m. at Keith “Duke” Roman Field in Minden.
The Cougars (5-2 overall, 4-2 Northern 4A) have already clinched a playoff berth thanks to a 5-0 start to the season while Douglas (3-4, 3-3) has rallied with two wins over the past two weeks. A win against Spanish Springs would clinch a playoff spot for the Tigers.
While Douglas is riding its first win streak of the season, Spanish Springs has lost two straight close games (20-14at McQueen and 23-13 at Carson).
Mathematically, Spanish Springs can finish anywhere from second to seventh in the final league standings while Douglas could go between fourth and ninth (out of the playoffs). Tonight’s victor will gain valuable footing toward missing the league’s elite three teams in the first round of the playoffs.
On paper, it appears to be the most evenly-matched game of the season for the Tigers as both schools sports identical 3-2 records against common opponents on the season.
Spanish Springs sports a balanced ground game as the Cougars have rolled up an average of 226 rushing yards per game while depending steadily on four different ball carriers.
Conrad Tanyi has been the go-to back with 102 carries for 583 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. Austin Raugh has been more of a big-play back, averaging 8.7 yards a carry with 409 yards and four touchdowns on just 47 carries.
Taylor Swanson (49 carries, 264 yards, 2 TD) and Jonathon Ferry (28 carries, 144 yards, 1 TD) have been nice complimentary backs for the Cougars while quarterback Tanner Oates has picked up 76 yards on 17 carries.
Douglas will counter with what has been a stellar run defense that has allowed an average of 141.3 yards per game and held opponents under 100 yard twice this season. A lot of that can be credited to linemen Trevor Hemsath, Zach Falanga and August Greth and linebackers Shane Connelly, Justin Tenney and Riley Griffith. Defensive end Scott Rudnick had an effective season debut for the Tigers last week against Damonte Ranch after missing the majority of the season with a broken collarbone.
What makes Spanish Springs’ offense so tough to defend, though, is the emergence of Oates as a passer. Oates has completed 48 percent of his passes for 850 yards.
He’ll face some pressure for the Tiger front seven, which has tallied 16 sacks in seven games. Douglas’ secondary has also picked off eight passes led by Nate VonAhsen’s three interceptions.
On offense, sophomore tailback Conner Peterson had a monster game against Damonte, running for 322 yards and five touchdowns and totaling 357 yards of total offense with six TDs. He is averaging over 10 yards per carry on the season.
Senior Ryen Ake has totaled 757 rushing yards on the season with seven touchdowns, giving Douglas a strong tandem in the backfield.
Senior quarterback Zack Williams enjoyed an efficient outing against Damonte Ranch, completing 10-of-13 passes with two touchdowns while upping his season passing total to 638 yards in four starts.
Ake leads the team in catches with 21 while Austin Neddenriep has come on strong in the past three weeks with 15 catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
The two teams have only met three times since Spanish Springs opened in 2001.
Douglas has won both meetings in Sparks (41-26 in 2002 and 19-7 in 2006) and lost the only meeting in Minden (28-23 in 2005).