Ready for a challenge
Reed football (5-4) won’t be a new challenge for Douglas High Friday night to open the 4A Northern Region postseason, but the Raiders will be a challenge.
The two programs met earlier this season on Sept. 13 where the Raiders came to Minden and left with a 63-20 win over the Tigers behind four first half touchdowns of 40-plus yards.
It wasn’t the only time the Tigers were burned by the big play this year, but it was a Douglas team that was battling through some injuries.
Douglas head coach Ernie Monfiletto says the Tigers are as close to full strength as a team can be after a 10-game grind and his defense needs to be rearing to go Friday.
“We just need to slow them down. I believe we had the gameplan to do that and now we just need to go through with it,” said Monfiletto.
Raiders’ offensive weapons
It’s a multi-faceted Reed attack, but Douglas’ main priority will be trying to take away running back Elijah Tau-Tolliver (No. 27), who posted 1,116 yards rushing this season alongside 16 touchdowns.
Tau-Tolliver is also Reed’s leading receiver this season. The halfback posted 178 total yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns against Douglas back in September.
Jack Franz (No. 6) will be the man in control of the offense for the Raiders as the senior quarterback threw for 1,657 yards this year, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Reed’s preference this season has been to let the running game set up the passing game, but it has worked plenty well with the Raiders averaging 18.7 yards per completion.
“I think that they’re a consistent team running the ball and complimented with the pass,” said Monfiletto. “We just need to identify and attack. We have to figure out what they’re doing and how to address it.”
Plenty of that responsibility is going to fall on Douglas’ youthful front seven, which has shown flashes of being able to take away opposing play makers.
In Reed’s five wins this season the team from Sparks has posted 50 or more points all five times. The 63 points scored against the Tigers in September was the second most Reed posted on the scoreboard this season.
Tiger offense needs to keep pace
When Douglas’ offense has gotten moving this season, not a lot of teams have found an answer.
Even while missing their starting center in their first meeting against Reed, Tiger halfback Trevor Kruger ran for 226 yards on 27 carries and posted two touchdowns.
Douglas didn’t have any issues chewing up clock either, posting over 30 minutes in time of possession and running nearly 30 more plays than the Raiders.
Given Reed’s offensive attack, the Tigers will need similar numbers in time of possession to try and give its defense as much rest as possible.
Douglas’ offense line will need to do a better job of protecting quarterback Isaac Shaver this time around. Shaver was sacked six times in Minden when the two squads first met.
“They play great defense. I think the strength of their team is defense,” said Monfiletto. “We cannot allow that quarterback to get hit like he did last time. I believe the offensive line is up for the challenge.”
Monfiletto was confident if Douglas can get its offense churning, it’ll have a shot to pull what many would deem an upset.
Reed will sit in a base cover 3 scheme and play aggressively while maintaining single gap responsibility.
The Tigers feel if they can post 28 to 35 points they will stay right in the mix all night long.
“They’re a team that puts up a lot of pints. Again we need to have a great defensive effort and the offense needs to eliminate mistakes,” said Monfiletto.