Hickey shows grit for Tigers
How well did Douglas High quarterback Hunter Hickey run on Friday night?
Bishop Manogue coach Ernie Howren didn’t hesitate in his response to the question from Michael Reaves for Gustin Sports Productions.
“The guy’s an absolute stud,” Howren said after Manogue’s 41-21 win at home against the Tigers. “I’m a believer, let’s put it that way. I was so impressed the way he played.”
Hickey accounted for 274 yards in total offense — 125 rushing with one touchdown and threw for another 149 — to carry the Tigers in a game that was tied at 21-all in the third quarter of the Sierra League opener at D.J. Bernardis Field.
None of this surprises Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto, who has watched Hickey play as the Tigers’ starting quarterback over the last two seasons.
“Hunter’s a great leader and he leads by example,” Monfiletto said. “He gives his best effort at every game and every practice.”
In the trenches
The Tigers had 20 first downs and gained 255 yards in total offense. Give credit to an offensive line that has been pieced together due to injuries and personnel changes: Paul Costello at left tackle, Cody Freitas at left guard, Andrew Browning at center, James Monroe at right guard, Ryan McIntosh at right tackle, as well as Matthew Shick and Claudio Magana at tight end. Monfiletto went on to point out that the Tigers now have seven new starters who were not in the lineup for the team’s season opener against Rigby.
Gustin Sports Productions color man Ray Hagar — a former offensive lineman at Manogue and assistant coach at Douglas in the 1970s (Hunter Hickey is a cousin) — asked Howren about the war in the trenches.
“I think the thing that should be talked about is how physical they (Douglas) were on both sides of the football,” said Howren, who is in his first season at Manogue after a long and successful as Reed’s head coach.
In the end, the Miners took charge as Peyton Dixon scored three of his four touchdowns in the final quarter-and-a-half. Dixon rushed for 185 yards on 29 carries, with 133 of those yards coming in the second half. Howren pointed to his own offensive line that included Ryan Miller, Josh Malafu, Matt Gilbert, Joey Wright, Nicholas Martin and Chandron Pierre.
Douglas wide receiver Devon Ryan caught six passes for 57 yards, and overall, the 6-foot-1 junior was targeted 18 times. He was covered one-on-one much of the night by cornerback Dontell Jackson, an athletic 5-9 junior (a 22-foot long jumper in track) who had a red zone interception and 60-yard return when the score was still 27-21. Jackson also broke up two passes in the end zone on drives that ended with Chris Flores kicking field goals for Douglas.
“No. 3 (Ryan), I have a lot of respect for that kid; that’s a really good receiver and I thought D.J. played as well as he could possibly play against a receiver like that,” Howren said of Jackson. “He made some tremendous plays.”
The Tigers started a retooled defensive line that included Cody Freitas, Jose Ramirez and Taylor Washam. Austin Aiken, an all-league defensive end last year, was sidelined on Friday due to a knee injury.
Andrew Andrews, a newcomer to the lineup at strongside inside linebacker, was credited with nine tackles (two solo) and Christopher Merritt was in on seven tackles (one solo) at weakside inside linebacker. Jayden Foster and Flores also played well at the outside linebacker spots, Monfiletto added.
The Tigers (0-1, 1-5) will play one more non-league contest Friday when they host winless Hug for homecoming. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Keith Roman Field.