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Wooster football win would boost Tigers

by Chuck Smock, sports editor

It’s been eight years since a Douglas football team walked off the field with a victory over Wooster.

If the Tigers are to have a realistic chance of making the playoffs this season, that streak must end Saturday in Reno.

Douglas (2-5 overall, 0-3 in Sierra League play) is coming off a tough, 22-14, overtime loss to the Reno Huskies on Friday. Wooster (5-2, 3-0) defeated Hug, 14-7, on Friday.

Despite being winless in league play with only two games remaining, the Tigers can put themselves in a position to make the postseason by beating the Colts.

“We continue to be optimistic,” DHS head coach Mike Rippee said. “We’re working hard and the kids are playing hard. I’m sure it (losing games) is discouraging to everybody, and us too, but we haven’t given up.

“One of the coaches said it, ‘We’re running out of things this team can accomplish.’ And one of those things is to step up and beat a division leader – and beat Wooster on top of that – that would be a good way to go into the last week of the season.”

The Tigers will finish the regular season with a home game against rival Carson (4-3, 1-2, entering Friday’s home game with Hug High) next Thursday.

Reno is 1-2 in league play and has road games at South Tahoe and Wooster left on its schedule, meaning there’s a good chance Reno won’t win another game.

If Douglas wins out and Reno and Carson both lose their last two games, the Tigers will clinch the fourth Sierra League playoff spot.

Rippee, however, isn’t ready to start looking too far ahead.

“We’re still taking it one game at a time,” he said. “I don’t think, talent-wise, Wooster is any better than anybody in the league. They lead the division because their team plays real, real hard, physical football.

“They’re real basic on offense. They like to run the ball, control the ball, and they throw when they have to. And they play tenacious defense. They’re good up front, their linebackers are very active and they just get after you. They’ll bend a little bit, but they don’t seem to break.”

One of the areas the Colts seem willing to bend is in the defensive secondary, where Wooster plays it defensive backs off the line of scrimmage to prevent giving up the long pass play.

That could mean big games for receivers Jordan Ovard and Erik Olson, as the Colts likely will try to take away Douglas deep threat Gabe Hatchett.

“We need to be able to throw underneath and be happy with getting five, six yards and holding on to the ball,” Rippee said. “But, in that type of offense, you have to be mistake free, because you’re going to take some plays to get down field.”

The Tigers, as always, will need to be able to run the ball against Wooster. Junior Monte McCann rushed for 129 yards on 29 carries against Reno and could play a big role in helping Douglas keep the ball – and the clock – moving against Wooster.

“We’re preparing to keep this game close, so we have an opportunity to win it at the end of the game,” Rippee said. “We can’t let them control the ball offensively and keep the ball away from us. If they get a two or three touchdown lead, then it’s going to be difficult to come back on them.”