Tiger football awaits season’s toughest test today at Damonte Ranch
Douglas High School football will have a chance this evening to send waves through the Sierra League, as a win over the 7-1 Damonte Ranch Mustangs would be their first flaw in league play.
The Mustangs are 3-0 in league play with wins over Bishop Manogue, Wooster and Carson by a combined score of 122-24.
Plenty of damage for Damonte Ranch has come from the ground game and their explosive tailback Ashton Hayes (No. 26).
Hayes has racked up 1,536 yards this season to go with 20 touchdowns and is averaging nearly 200 yards per game on the ground.
Douglas head coach Ernie Monfiletto knows Douglas’ defense has to start by slowing down Hayes and the Mustang ground game.
“No. 1 is to contain that running back and limit his carries and productivity,” said Monfiletto. “We need to stop the run. I think it’s No. 1 on our list.”
It won’t just be Hayes who can hurt the Tigers on the ground as starting quarterback Ethan Kulpin (No. 7) is capable of taking off if his receiving options aren’t open.
Kulpin didn’t need his legs much against Carson, but his arm was plenty effective as he was 10-for-18 with 257 yards and two touchdowns against the Senators.
Carson was able to get some pressure on Kulpin as the Mustangs spread out their offensive line. Monfiletto knows Douglas will have to be able to generate even more pressure if its defense wants to be able to get the offense back the ball quickly.
“They play with a pretty wide split so they give you some lanes to run through,” said Monfiletto. “Hopefully, pressure will cause them to make some ill-advised decisions.”
Douglas offense looks to click
The Tiger offense has shown its capability to get in rhythm over the last two weeks, but it will be crucial today as it will allow the defense to rest.
Monfiletto was pleased with sophomore quarterback Isaac Shaver’s play last week, but the head coach knows Damonte Ranch presents just as many challenges on defense as it does on offense.
Shaver saw quite a bit of pressure from Bishop Manogue last week, but to this point of the season Damonte Ranch has had more success than the Miners at getting to the quarterback.
With 24 sacks on the year, the Mustangs have several different players who have proven they can pressure the QB. Defensive end Jaeden Imgard (No. 27) leads the team with five sacks.
Outside linebacker Christian Jamison (No. 9) has been nearly unblockable this season, posting a minimum of 10 tackles in every game this season.
“We have to protect well against a team that’s going to bring pressure,” said Monfiletto. “We also have to catch the football. Three, we have to make good decisions on where we throw the football and I think Isaac has made progress every week.”
Monfiletto said his pass protection last week was ‘pretty good,’ but coverage sacks were what hurt the Tigers.
“We need to pick up their pressures and account for everybody,” said Monfiletto.
In doing so, Douglas is hoping to get its ground game involved quickly to help out the rest of the offense.
Tiger running back Trevor Kruger has posted over 100 yards on the ground in three consecutive weeks and Monfiletto and company wouldn’t complain if the junior back did so again.
Ultimately, Douglas knows it will have to play well in all three phases of the game to have a chance at knocking off Damonte Ranch.
“We need to play a complete game,” said Monfiletto. “We need to step up our performance against a quality football team.”