Football: The rest of the season begins now
“We are going to come back with a vengeance, we are not going to let this night ruin our year,” Douglas football coach Mike Rippee bellowed, leaning over to look his players in the eyes and let the statement sink in.
He repeated it once more for effect.
His Tigers had just finished beating rival Carson in nearly every statistical category, but it was the Senators who walked away with the advantage on the scoreboard.
But even in the loss – which dropped Douglas (1-4, 1-3 Northern 4A) to its slowest start since the 1999 Tigers went 1-5 to open the year – there was plenty of reason for hope.
“These kids did everything they could to win the game, and it just didn’t happen,” Rippee said. “We have to come back, play hard and get on a winning track.
“We just can’t have any letdown and come out flat next week. I told the kids I hope they feel this. I hope it is a bitter taste in their mouths. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.
We just have to get better.”
Indeed, Douglas looked much better than it has all season, matching the top-ranked and unbeaten Senators punch-for-punch.
Douglas got a much-needed boost offensively as quarterback Zack Williams (foot) and wide receiver Austin Neddenriep (thumb) came back from injuries that had kept them out the majority of the season thus far.
The duo made an instant impact, connecting on six passes for 124 yards and a 30-yard first-quarter score. Williams finished with a career-high 272 yards in the air.
“It’s the first week we’ve had those guys back, so they’re going through almost a midseason training camp right now,” Rippee said. “They’ll get there, and they were big tonight.”
The duo also opened things up for the running game, which piled up 170 yards. Douglas put up 442 yards of total offense in the game for its one of its best and most-balanced performances of the season.
“Zack really opens that passing game up for us and this is a very good offense when we can go multiple like that,” Rippee said.
The defense, which has been solid all season, will be at full-strength for the first time this year after next week as defensive end and senior captain Scott Rudnick (wrist) got his clearance to being practicing Oct. 11.
Friday night, Douglas kept the state’s top rushing attack in check to the tune of 170 yards. Carson was missing Dylan Sawyers for most of the second half, but even so, the Tigers held him to 62 yards in the first half before he broke loose for a 63-yard run just before halftime.
In Sawyer’s absence, the Senators managed just 17 yards rushing and 58 yards passing.
“The effort was there, the desire was there,” Rippee said. “Carson is a good football team. They played hard and they got the win. We just have to regroup.
“There is a lot of season left and we determine our own fate these next few weeks. Tonight is a tough pill to swallow, but we can’t let it define our season. We can only get better from here. We have to get better from here.”