Tigers hammer Vikings
Douglas High’s Josh Himmelrick wasn’t sure what to think as he ran down the field on the kickoff and saw the ball lying on the goal line with nobody around it.
South Tahoe coach Tim Jaureguito simply couldn’t believe what he saw, as Himmelrick pounced on the kickoff and tumbled into the end zone for a touchdown that helped put Douglas on track to a 34-12 Northern 4A Division II victory at home Thursday night.
Douglas jumped out to a 14-0 lead by scoring two touchdowns within a span of one second midway through the first quarter and the Tigers never looked back on their way to a win that boosted them to 4-1 in Division II play (5-3 overall) and into a second-place tie with Carson.
Douglas’ first touchdown, a 3-yard run by Wes Naugle, was set up by a Bryce Lister fumble recovery.
Douglas recovered yet another of its kickoffs later in the first half, this one by Kyle Wentz, to set up another touchdown as the Tigers extended their lead to 28-6 at halftime.
Jaureguito seemed to be in a state of shock by that time.
“I’ve never seen that happen in football, not once, let alone twice,” shrugged Jaureguito, whose Vikings fell to 0-5 in division and 3-5 overall. “I’ll have to take the blame for having those covered, I guess. After all, we are in the eighth week of the season.”
They weren’t planned onside kicks, but Douglas coach Mike Rippee was obviously more than happy to take any break that came the Tigers’ way.
“That wasn’t anything we planned on, but those are good things to have happen,” he said. “That’s just hustle on our guys’ part. A lot of people overlook special teams play, but that is an important phase of the game.”
Himmelrick will probably never forget his first-ever high school touchdown.
“I just ran down and saw the ball laying at about the 2 and nobody was around it. Then I saw two guys going back, I just went for it,” the junior recalled.
In between the three big breaks, Douglas put together an 81-yard, 13-play, march that culminated with Levi Shoda’s 1-yard touchdown run to make it 21-6. Bartone completed four of five passes for 45 yards on the drive.
South Tahoe capitalized on a defensive break of its own in the third quarter when Justin Murray came up with a drive-stopping interception at the goal line. The Vikings drove 86 yards in 12 plays with quarterback Tim Sprinkles sneaking in from one yard out to cut the gap to 28-12.
“Yes, I was nervous at that point,” Rippee admitted. “There’s no quit on that side. I knew that, so yes, it was big for us not to go three-plays-and-out on the next series. That would have just added to their momentum, and at that time, there was still plenty of time left to play.”
Douglas got the momentum right back by taking the ensuing kickoff and driving for another touchdown. The score came when quarterback Anthony Bartone scrambled and found Ken Nicoll wide open near the goal line for a 27-yard touchdown pass to push the Tigers’ lead to 34-12.
A glance at the statistics showed South Tahoe’s Bryan Marino with 64 yards on 13 carries. Naugle and Shoda rushed for 57 and 51 yards respectively to lead a balanced Douglas ground attack, while Bartone completed eight of 19 passes for 122 yards.
“The breaks were big. You can’t give a team like Douglas 21 points,” Jaureguito said. “But I was proud of the way our kids played. They never gave up. They banged all the way, from the opening kickoff to the final gun.”
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