Football: Tigers look to stop Panther attack | RecordCourier.com

Football: Tigers look to stop Panther attack

by Joey Crandall

It was a loss, but through the final three quarters of last week’s 31-30 Manogue game, the Douglas football team began to show signs of its potential.

The Tiger ground game (230-plus yards) began to take shape and the run defense did more than an admirable job against one of the top offenses in the region (minus-1 rushing yard in the second half).

But the pass defense, which surrendered 289 yards to Manogue — many of which came on third- and fourth-down plays — will run into possibly its toughest test of the season tonight at home against North Valleys.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

North Valleys’ quarterback Tim Herman lit up opposing defenses last season for 2,048 yards and 19 touchdowns. In three games this year, he’s already thrown for 699 yards and nine touchdowns.

That’s especially tough considering Douglas has been prone to giving up the big play through its first two games.

The Tigers held Reed’s potent offense to 258 total yards in the opener (45 in the second half) and showed flashes of brilliance against Manogue last week.

But in both games, untimely lapses ultimately led to points that made the difference in the game.

“We’re facing a high-scoring offense (in North Valleys) again this week,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “We have to quit giving up the big play. We have to stop the mental breakdowns. Those are things we have to correct. The effort is there.”

The positive is that Douglas’ interior defensive linemen, senior Zach Falanga (two sacks in 2010, 10 for his career) and 6-6, 280-pound junior Trevor Hemsath, began to come into their own last week. Their role in the pass rush will be crucial to slowing down the Panther attack.

The other big plus heading into the third game of the year is that senior Ryen Ake began to step into the feature back role against Manogue, running for 199 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries against a physical Miner defense.

He received a big boost from the much-improved offensive line which included Trevor Shaffer, Spencer Fellows, Matt Wylie, Ben Reed, Zach Tierney and August Greth.

The Tigers will be without starting quarterback Zack Williams (foot) for the second-consecutive week, but junior Sam Cochran ran for a pair of scores and competed six passes for 72 yards while directing the offense to 258 total yards in his varsity debut.

Aside from Herman, whose top target is Nick Palko (19 catches, 345 yards, 5 TD), the Panthers have added some balance to their attack with junior running back Alex Fong (50 carries, 288 yards, 3 TD).

Douglas’ top receiver through two games has been junior Nick Maestretti (9 catches, 119 yards) although Ake has figured into the passing game on screens and swings with six catches for 76 yards.