Football: Tigers host Mustangs tonight |

Football: Tigers host Mustangs tonight

by Joey Crandall

Douglas football will host its homecoming game tonight at 7 p.m. with an upstart Damonte Ranch squad set to come to town.

Both teams are 2-3 in league play and will be jockeying for playoff position in the key league matchup.

Damonte has an impressive 49-42 win over Spanish Springs on the year, as well as a big win over North Valleys. The Mustangs also played toe-to-toe with McQueen (36-29 loss), suffered a late 31-27 loss to Reno and led Manogue early on before losing 34-14.

“These kids have won a couple big games,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “They’ve never beaten us before and you know that’s something they’ll be aiming for. They’ll be ready to play. It’s our homecoming and we have to be ready to play too.”

Douglas opened the year with consecutive losses to Pocatello (currently the 10th-ranked team in the state of Idaho with a 6-1 record), regional favorite Reed and Manogue.

The Tigers got back on track with a 51-22 thumping of North Valleys, led at halftime against McQueen before falling 32-14, fell to Carson on a last-second field goal 31-29 and rolled over Hug last week 63-7.

Douglas has won all five of its matchups with Damonte, although each game has been relatively close.

The Tigers defeated Damonte Ranch 13-0 in the Mustangs’ first year of varsity action (2006) and had to overcome a slow start and early deficit the following year to win 47-17.

In 2008, Douglas held off the Mustangs and battled through a vigorous snow storm to win 27-17 in a game that wasn’t decided until the final minute. The Tigers again came back from an early deficit to win 35-20 in 2009 and had to hold off the upstart Mustang offense last year in a 56-24 shootout.

“Damonte is a whole bunch better than they have been in previous years and they have some confidence coming,” Rippee said.

Leading the charge for the Mustangs has been dual-threat junior quarterback Drew Smith. Smith has completed 48 percent of his passes for 740 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 570 yards and seven touchdowns.

The team’s second-leading rusher is sophomore Jeff Jurgensmeier with 97 carries for 514 yards and eight touchdowns.

Smith has two solid targets in Matt Anderson (17 catches, 339 yards, five touchdowns) and Jordan Waller (14-231-0) and has completed passes to eight different receivers on the year, although six of them are averaging less than a catch per game.

Douglas has begun to fall into stride with its no-huddle offensive, showing off balanced production out of both the rushing (1,278 yards) and passing (1,392 yards) games.

Junior quarterback Michael Nolting has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,3711 yards and 11 touchdowns.

He has spread the ball to 11 different receivers this season with six pass catchers averaging about two catches per game.

Nick Maestretti has been Nolting’s top target with 28 catches for 298 yards and three touchdowns while Dusty Fisher has 21 catches for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Nate VonAhsen (18-294-2), Connor Hughers (15-155-3), Steven Werth (11-103-0) and Conner Peterson (11-66-0) have all been suitable targets.

A lot of space in the passing game has been opened up by the junior Peterson, who has rushed for 758 yards and nine touchdowns at a clip of 4.82 yards per carry.

Defensively, Trevor Shaffer, Jackson Ketron and Justin Tenney and Trevor Hemsath have been strong over the past two weeks up front, particularly against Carson.

Maestretti, Hughes and VonAhsen have been solid in the defensive backfield, but up-and–coming corner back Brandon Josifko was likely lost for the season last week after a knee injury against Hug.

Cory Dillon, EJ Rose, Michael Hoyt and Cody Hayes rotated through the linebacker spots last week, as did Peterson.

Tonight will be only the second time Damonte has travelled to Minden. The games in 2007, 2009 and 2010 were all at Damonte and the 2006 meeting was at Galena as Douglas’ artificial field was being installed.