Reed to face Bishop Gorman Saturday in state title game
First-year head coach Tony Amantia knew what the expectations were when he was selected to lead the Reed football program back in February, just a month after longtime Raiders coach Ernie Howren stepped down to take the Bishop Manogue job.
It’s now safe to say he’s met, if not exceeded those after guiding his team to the state title game after a 24-21 win over Reno High on Friday to capture the 4A Northern Regional crown at Damonte Ranch High.
“I’m more excited for our kids and coaches than myself getting to the state game,” Amantia said. “I’m just relieved we could accomplish this for those kids.”
It was the second straight week Reed faced an undefeated team in an elimination game, and like last weeks 31-27 win over Damonte Ranch, they were the underdog and came out on top. They were able to erase the doubt that surrounded them after being blanked 39-0 by the very same Huskies team on Oct. 13 and won when it mattered most.
“I think beating two undefeated teams back to back proved that we are the best team in Northern Nevada this year,” Amantia said.
It also helped that the Raiders got off to a fast start.
Aidan Sawyer got his team on the board late in the first quarter with a 31 yard field goal and Josiah Schmidt punched the ball in from two yards out late in the second to give Reed a 10-0 lead that they would take into the half.
The Huskies would respond in the third quarter and take a 14-10 lead after a pair of long touchdown runs by Brandon Kaho to set up a wild fourth quarter.
With just under four minutes to play in the game, Raiders quarterback Cameron Emerson capped off a lengthy drive with a one yard touchdown run to take a 17-14 lead. Champ Robertson recovered a huge fumble just two minutes later to give Reed the ball back and George Moreno went on to ice the game with a 40 yard score.
“Our ability to run the ball was huge,” Amantia said. “Our offensive line has really improved and our offensive coaches have done a great job to figure out what we do well and lean in that direction with play calling.”
Reed will now face the task of taking on a Bishop Gorman team that has dismantled every team in Southern Nevada that has gotten in its way. Aside from two losses to nationally ranked opponents in early September, the Gaels have won every game this season in blowout fashion, including seven straight shut outs from Sept. 23 to Nov. 3. They are coming off a 35-13 win over Liberty in the state semifinals and are coming to Reno clicking on all cylinders.
Amantia knows the challenge that lies ahead but is confident in his group that is playing its best football of the season.
“I expect our kids to play hard and put themselves in a position to win the game,” he said.
Kickoff is set for 12:10 p.m. Saturday at Mackay Stadium on the campus of the University of Nevada.