Tigers look to answer questions | RecordCourier.com

Tigers look to answer questions

Douglas tailback Sam Melhus picks his way through a hole Friday during the Tigers' scrimmage at Fernley.
Steve Puterski |

A lot of questions remain to be answered as the Douglas High football team prepares for its regular season opener tonight at home against McQueen.

A young and relatively inexperience squad of Tigers — 13 varsity returnees from 2014 — will look to answer some of those questions in a 7 p.m. non-league contest at Keith Roman Field. This is also the school’s Football Hall of Fame night, with five graduates set to participate in an induction ceremony before the opening kickoff: Brando Roman, J.J. Barnard, Stormy Herald, Evan Bill and Aaron Ross.

McQueen has been dominant with a 24-4 record against Douglas since the series began in 1982. The Lancers have won seven state championships during that span.

More recently, the two teams have split their last two meetings. The Tigers were 42-35 victors at home in 2012, while the Lancers won 40-28 in Reno.

“They’ve got some talent and a strong tradition,” said Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto, who is entering his fourth season as head coach. “They’re very similar to us philosophically on offense in that they run zone read, they like to run some fly sweep and they like to get downhill on people.”

Douglas is looking to improve on last year’s 3-8 seaso, which ended with a 52-14 loss against four-time Northern Division I Region champion Reed. McQueen went 5-5 overall last season and qualified for the playoffs under coach Jim Snelling.

“We’re excited to have this challenge to start our season,” Monfiletto said. “Jim will have his kids ready to play and I know we will be prepared for them.”

As far as those question marks, you can start with offensive and defensive lines.

The offensive line is brand new, aside from 6-foot-5 junior tight end Taran Grove. Four juniors are starting on the interior line, including Tahoma Smokey at center, Cody Lewis at right guard, Guy Rogers at right tackle, Danny Rich at left guard and 6-4, 315-pound left tackle Dawson Hughes.

There is a little more experience on the defensive line, led by senior Josh Jensen coming off a season in which he earned second-team all-league recognition at end. Jensen is expected to see action at defensive end and tackle this season, joined by Grove at one end, junior tackle/end Garrett Frankiewich, plus Smokey, Hughes and Rogers.

Sticking with the defense, junior Reagan Roberson returns as a second-team all-league middle linebacker and is expected to be a leader for the Tigers this fall.

Senior Anthony Arellano and junior Ryland DeSomber are starting at outside linebacker. DeSomber, a state wrestling tournament qualifier at 195 pounds in February, has dropped 30 pounds and changed his role from defensive line to linebacker/tailback.

Junior free safety Tre Jackson returns as one of the leaders in the secondary, along with seniors Luke Houghton, Sam Melhus (honorable mention all-league) and Trevor Tierney.

On offense, senior Bryce James returns as the Tigers’ starting quarterback. James threw for 647 yards and ran for another 300 yards in eight games.

Melhus is set as the starting tailback coming off a 2014 season in which he saw some action. His season highlight came against Hug with 102 yards rushing, including a 66-yard touchdown run.

DeSomber and senior Moses Broom are listed as the backups at tailback. Juniors Will Williams and Dawson Coman are also expected to contribute from the H-back position.

Tomas Leitenbauer returns as a second-team all-league wide receiver, as he caught 13 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown last year. Senior Cody Ball also figures to contribute as a receiver, along with Grove at tight end.

Adrian Gonzalez is another senior to watch after he earned second-team all-league recognition last season at kicker. He now handles the kicking and punting chores, plus he is expected to contribute as a lineman.

“I think we’re going to be fine if we do the things we’re supposed to,” Monfiletto said. “We need to continue to make the progress we’ve made over the summer and try to become a better football team with every game … every snap of the ball.”