Tigers go 3-0-1 in season prep work
Ernie Monfiletto was clearly upbeat on Friday after watching the Douglas High football team go 3-0-1 during the second annual Flying Tigers Passing Tournament.
At the same time, however, the Douglas coach was realistic in regard to the big picture when he pointed out this is still July and the regular season is still scheduled to kick off in 30 days.
“We have a long way to go,” said Monfiletto, whose Tigers went 3-8 in 2014. “Seven-on-seven isn’t going to win games. But we did learn more about our passing game and about defending against the pass and about building confidence.”
Douglas emerged with wins against McQueen, South Tahoe and Galena during the 12-team tournament. The Tigers settled for a 35-35 tie when Bishop Manogue scored a touchdown on the game’s final play.
Monfiletto, who is entering his fourth season as head coach of the Douglas program, felt the Tigers did a good job of working toward their tournament goal of improving with every snap.
“I thought the kids made great progress from the UNR passing tournament,” Monfiletto said. “They were running better routes today, their coverages were better and they made some pretty good plays on both sides of the ball.”
Monfiletto indicated that the team’s improvement was especially noticeable in their 44-26 win against Galena to end the day.
“Galena took it to us when we played at UNR,” he said. “Galena is going to be a good team in the Sierra League and the kids went out today and executed very well.”
Tournament games were played on a 40-yard field with no pads and no tackling. A 40-minute running clock was used and there was no special teams play. Touchdowns were worth seven points. Good defense was rewarded as well, since three points were given for an interception and two points for a defensive stop.
One of the bright spots on offense was quarterback Bryce James, a senior who stepped in as the starter in week four last year. James had his best game in a season-ending 52-14 playoff loss at Reed, where he completed 17 of 28 passes for 143 yards, with one touchdown, one interception and no sacks.
“Bryce is our guy as of right now,” Monfiletto said of the Tigers’ quarterback situation. “I just think he has carried on his progress from the end of last year and shown a lot of commitment during the offseason. He’s been a great team leader, and overall, I’m extremely pleased with his effort.”
During one stretch in the Tigers’ 53-43 win against South Tahoe, James threw 40-yard touchdown passes on three successive plays, hooking up with a different receiver each time. Cody Ball, Taran Grove and Tre Jackson caught those TD passes. Jackson caught another 40-yard touchdown pass to close out the game’s scoring.
In the South Tahoe game, Kyle Morrison had an early interception to give the Tigers their first lead. Reagan Roberson and Haydn Brown also had late interceptions for the Tigers, while Jackson broke up a fourth-down pass at the goal line to score two more points for the defensive stop.
Against Manogue, Ball caught a touchdown pass from James on a fourth-down pass over the middle and Trevor Tierney intercepted a pass to give Douglas an early lead.
Grove, a 6-foot-5 junior who played tight end for Douglas last season, caught two touchdown passes in the game.
Manogue scored 16 unanswered points at the end of the game to tie the score, capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass from incoming freshman Lincoln Hauck on the game’s final play.
Of interest, the Manogue Miners are in the process of working in a new quarterback after returning starter Connor Noland transferred to Greenwood, Ark. Noland earned second-team all-Sierra League honors as a freshman for Manogue last year.
Tomas Leitenbauer, Ball, Grove and Jackson were all contributing factors on the receiving end, Monfiletto noted. And backup quarterback Bucho Abina, a junior, also showed progress on the day.
On the defensive side, Monfiletto spoke highly of the performances by Tierney and Morrison at cornerback, along with Luke Houghton at strong safety, Jackson at free safety and Roberson at “Mike” linebacker. Two players who have moved up from the junior varsity showed improvement, River Jacobani at strong safety and Ryland DeSomber at outside linebacker. DeSomber has dropped his weight to 165 pounds after wrestling at 195 pounds last winter.
Most important, the day was a good step for the Tigers toward their Aug. 28 season opener at home against McQueen.
“Overall, I thought the kids played well,” Monfiletto said. “A lot of kids got a lot of reps and a chance to play a lot of football.”