R-C Sports Notebook: Rivalry makes a big comeback
Wow. Welcome back, Carson-Douglas rivalry. It’s good to see you back again.
After seven years of mostly lopsided Douglas wins, you’re not only relevant once again — you’re flat-out exciting.
Friday night’s game featured two potent offenses, two standout defenses, a booming crowd of somewhere around 3,000, a touch of inclement weather, emotional play, high drama and even a bit of controversy.
Oh yeah, and it went to overtime.
There was a time there, about three or four years ago, where I really started to worry about this rivalry.
Douglas wasn’t just winning the games, it was absolutely steamrolling through them. Only once between 2003 and 2008 did Carson manage to keep the score within even four touchdowns.
Crowds started to dwindle. Even in 2005, when Carson appeared to have the advantage heading in at home with Douglas coming off a demoralizing loss to McQueen, the Tigers walked away with a 53-19 win. The showdown had simply lost some of its luster.
Then came last year. The league championship matchup. Both teams came in with player of the year candidates on all sides of the ball, much more than bragging rights to play for and a standing-room only crowd in Carson.
It was the most-anticipated game of the year for any Northern 4A football fan. And then the Senators raced out to an early lead, stifled the Douglas offense and left little doubt in a 34-6 win that only saw the Tigers score in the last minute.
At least parity had been restored.
But Friday night was what last year’s game actually should have been.
Close? Edge-of-your-seat? Sure. It even had the star player go down with an injury only to strap the pads back on to attempt that heroic final drive every kid dreams about in the closing minutes of the game.
It was the type of game that elevated the rivalry to the next level back in the 80s and 90s. In 11 matchups between 1987 and 1997, neither team was able to win back-to-back matchups.
From the time Douglas made the jump to the large-school classification in 1979, the annual showdown was decided by 10 points or less 12 times, and 10 of those were decided by a touchdown or less.
But in the last 10 years, the game was decided by 25 points or more seven times.
Which was what made last week so refreshing. About midway through the third quarter, it was apparent that whoever scored next would win. And that ended up being the case.
But boy was it a royal struggle getting there.
It was a landmark game in this rivalry. It’s one we’ll be talking about for years to come and possibly one we’ll be pointing to as the start of the latest, greatest era of Carson vs. Douglas football.
OK, Tiger fans, there’s no getting around it. Your team is 1-4 to open the year. Just let it wash over you for a second.
So here’s the thing: Having such a difficult schedule through the first five weeks (Carson, Reed, Manogue and McQueen are currently the top four in the league), has allowed me to see the top programs in the area up close — a privilege that I haven’t had through the Sierra/High Desert League era.
The best team I’ve seen so far was on the field in Minden Friday night. And it wasn’t the one wearing white and blue.
Douglas put on a complete display of what it is able to do. The only thing missing was putting it all together down the stretch for the win.
The defense has been solid all year, there was no question about that heading in. But they did an admirable job on Carson with Dylan Sawyers in the backfield and flat-out dominated when he was on the sidelines.
The big surprise, though, was the performance of the offense. One got the sense that the Tigers were finally able to do what they’ve been wanting all year, with quarterback Zack Williams and receiver Austin Neddenriep returning from injuries.
Williams was as crisp as I have ever seen him, and he played the best game of his varsity career, rolling up a career-high 272 yards through the air. Neddenriep made some nice catches but, more importantly, he was able to draw the coverage off some of Douglas’ other talented receivers like Nick Maestretti and Trevor Shaffer.
It also opened things up drastically for the running backs as Ryen Ake and Conner Peterson has nice, big, slashing runs for most of the night.
Douglas’ hasn’t been out of a game all year. You put the team that showed up Friday night on the field for the four weeks (and I’ll include the Reed game in that because both Williams and Neddenriep were hurt for a good portion of it) and it’s possible the Tigers are 4-1 right now.
You actually give Douglas that blocked punt (What can I say? The ball traveled backward but the officials said Riley Griffiths never made contact with the ball. Quite the physical anomaly, that play was.) with all three timeouts and less than a minute left at the 20-yard line Friday night and it’s likely they’re undefeated.
The big question is if the team that showed up Friday night shows up for the remaining four games.
It’s by no means an easy slate, with home dates against Hug and Spanish Springs and trips to Damonte Ranch and Galena to round things out. However, if the Tigers can build upon what they started last Friday, they could be on the verge of a special run.
Time will tell, but don’t let that record fool you.
A colleague of mine used his Sunday column to call into question the decision for Douglas to pass on the first play of overtime.
The Tiger running backs, he said, were doing a fine job moving the ball, so why not hand it off?
Here’s the thing: It was absolutely the right play call.
Douglas running backs Ryen Ake and Conner Peterson slashed the Senator defense for 79 yards on nine carries in the third quarter.
But the Senators made a nice adjustment to counter the run in the fourth quarter, holding the duo to just 29 yards on eight carries with a fumble.
Conversely, the Tiger passing game was absolutely shredding the Senators through the fourth quarter with 98 yards gained on seven completions.
What’s more, I was able to watch the play unfold from behind the end zone and tight end Trevor Shaffer got open on the crossing pattern for what would have been a sure touchdown.
The quick touchdown, and let’s assume the made extra point, would have put the pressure on Carson, which hadn’t made a first down on its own through its final three drives.
Douglas had already gone to Shaffer twice for 27 yards in the game and was about to get 10 more before Carson lineman Tyler Collins got a hand up and made a terrific play on the ball.
That’s all it was. The right play call beaten by an even better defensive play. That’s football. Not bad play-calling.
I’m planning to be at these games this week, so check online for updates (Cover It Live is the tool we use to post automatic updates during games and also allows for comments and questions from fans during the game, so be sure to check out our Web site if you can’t make it to the games I will be posting from.):
Here’s where I’ll be
Tuesday: Volleyball vs. Damonte Ranch (Cover It Live)
Friday: Football vs. Hug (Cover It Live)
1. Reed (Last week: Beat Galena 42-6. Previous Ranking: 2. Record: 5-1, 4-0)
Why they should be No. 1: No one in the Northern 4A is playing better football than the Raiders right now. They’ve been consistent all season and have key wins over Douglas and McQueen. There hasn’t been an opposing offense to give them fits and their own offense is really starting to come into stride.
Why they should be ranked lower: They’ve been rolling through Northern 4A competition and have probably the strongest defense in the region. The only argument I can make for them being No. 2 is that Carson hasn’t lost to anyone yet. Reed’s loss at Granite Bay is looking more and more impressive by the week. We probably won’t get to settle this argument until the playoffs.
2. Carson (Last Week: beat Douglas 16-13, OT. Previous Ranking: No. 1;
Record: 5-0, 4-0)
Why they should be ranked higher: Douglas turned out to be the landmine type of game you’d expect in a rivalry, but the Senators fought through some huge obstacles (including the absence of Sawyers through most of the second half) to pick up the win. Reed hasn’t had to do that yet this year. When push comes to shove like that in the playoffs, I’ll always take the team with more experience in down-to-the-wire games.
Why they should be ranked lower: We learned in a hurry just how valuable Dylan Sawyers is to the Senators’ rushing attack. Supposing he gets back to full strength, Friday’s game at Douglas may end up being the best argument for Sawyers as the region’s player of the year. His individual stats speak for themselves, but those 12 rushing yards the team managed without him spoke much louder. His health is the biggest question mark right now, but it is a huge question mark.
3. McQueen (Last Week: beat Spanish Springs 20-14. Previous Ranking: No. 3;
Record: 5-1, 3-1)
Why they should be ranked higher: They narrowed the ranks of the Northern 4A’s unbeaten to one with an emotional win at Spanish Springs. The impressive thing is that they did it without their best player, two-way starter Rollins Stallworth (shoulder). You figure he’s back healthy, they win by two touchdowns.
Why they should be ranked lower: They had to come from behind to win in the final minute. If not for the last-minute magic McQueen has become famous for in the past few years, they’re likely the No. 5 team this week. .
4. Manogue (Last week: Idle. Previous Ranking: 4. Record: 4-1,
Why they should be ranked higher: They got a week off to prepare for the top-ranked Raiders, who they’ll play host to this Saturday. It’s the best possible situation for their toughest remaining game. A win there, and the Miners shoot right back up the list, probably topping out at No. 2.
Why they should be ranked lower: This is the toughest stretch of the schedule. Manogue will have had two weeks to stew over the Carson loss before facing Reed and McQueen in succession. If there is any let down on Saturday, it could quickly carry over into the McQueen game.
5. Spanish Springs (Last week: beat Reno 24-14. Previous Ranking: 5.
Record 5-0, 3-0)
Why they should be ranked higher: They lost in the final minute to the No. 3 team on a fourth-down play. That play breaks up, and the Cougars are realistically talking about being No. 1 or 2 at this point. Just because the last play went bad doesn’t mean the team that built the lead on the Lancers suddenly disappeared. There’s a lot of hope to build on from that loss.
Why they should be ranked lower: It only gets tougher from here. They see Reed, Carson and Douglas in the next few weeks and it’s a fair bet there will be at least one, if not three, losses to go.
On the outside looking in: Douglas, Reno.
On the outside looking in: Reed, Spanish Springs.
3. North Valleys
5. Spanish Springs
On the outside looking in: Damonte Ranch, Hug.
5. Spanish Springs
On the outside looking in: Reed, Damonte Ranch.
I’ve made no small passing mention of my time at TCU in this column over the past couple of years. So, you all know my keen interest in the Horned Frogs somehow finagling a way into the BCS title game.
The list of things that need to happen for TCU to somehow sneak into the BCS title game got exceptionally longer last week as nothing that needed to happen happened.
Not helping anything was the Horned Frogs’ struggle with Colorado State. If it doesn’t get any better this week, it’s likely over for the national title hopes and on to dreaming of a BCS bowl matchup with an actual BCS school.
Here’s the revised Purple Perfect Storm:
Absolute failure -Oct. 2: Stanford upsets Oregon in Eugene; Florida loses at Alabama; Oklahoma loses to Texas
Oct. 9: Boise State loses to Toledo; Alabama loses at South Carolina
Oct. 16: Ohio State loses at Wisconsin; Nebraska loses to Texas; Arkansas wins at Auburn
Oct. 23: LSU loses at Auburn
Oct. 30: Oregon loses at USC; Texas A&M loses to Texas Tech
Nov. 6: TCU needs to blow away an unbeaten Utah on the road; Stanford beats Arizona; South Carolina loses to Arkansas; Oklahoma loses at Texas A&M; Alabama loses at LSU
Nov. 13: Utah wins at Notre Dame
Nov. 20: Nebraska loses at Texas A&M
Nov. 27: Boise State loses at Nevada; Michigan loses at Ohio State; Auburn loses at Alabama
Dec. 4: Oregon loses at Oregon State; Alabama loses in SEC title game. Nebraska preferably beats Texas in the Big 12 title game.
Now, in the event, this all somehow happens, TCU still needs to win out convincingly and it would sure help things if Oregon State somehow ran the table in the Pac-10 to earn the Rose Bowl berth. It helps that they have a favorable conference slate, with USC, Oregon and Cal all having to make the trip to Corvallis. The trip to Arizona this week is their toughest remaining road date. It would also help if Baylor can somehow pick off one of the big boys in Big 12 play.
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Last week’s winner: Kat Alderz, Houston, TX. 10-of-16 picks (edged me by three points on the tiebreaker).
Last week’s winner: Glenn Gerhardt, Athol, ID. 12-of-14 picks
My Week 5 picks:
Jaguars over Bills
Bengals over Bucs
Falcons over Browns
Rams over Lions
Colts over Chiefs
Redskins over Packers
Bears over Panthers
Ravens over Broncos
Texans over Giants
Saints over Cardinals
Chargers over Raiders
Titans over Cowboys
Jets over Vikings
Tiebreaker: 49ers 21, Eagles 14
Season Record: 30-16. Last Week: 9-5
Time for this week’s installment of Edd Roush’s All-Stars (Formerly “This Wacky World of Sports”) – Celebrating Edd Roush, the only player ever ejected from a Major League Baseball game for sleeping in the outfield.
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts missed the final six days of the regular season because he was dealing with concussion-like symptoms from hitting himself in the helmet with a bat.
“I don’t know 100 percent sure, but it was Monday night,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “In frustration [after a strikeout], I whacked myself on the head with my bat in the ninth. I had my helmet on. It’s something I’ve done a million times, but I still can’t tell you for sure if that was it. But that’s the only thing that I can point to because that night and the next morning, I just didn’t feel good. So it’s been going on since then.”
Just when you think you’re watching the most unbelievable choke in the history of football, the opposing team pulls a total “LOST” on you and reveals that they were dead when the play started. (Start at about 1:25)