Depending on your perspective, the DI North football regional tournament is either already starting, or it’s finally starting.
I’m in the prior camp.
It’s strange to think that it was 10 weeks ago many of us rejoiced at the fact football season was coming to life. Now it’s taking its final breaths.
That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of exciting football to be played. Fear not, because some of the most intense games of the year are still ahead of us. Whew.
Here’s how it’s going down.
1. Tourney format will hold true in the first round
Last year, Hug, the High Desert League No. 3 seed, upset Damonte Ranch (Sierra League No. 2) in the first round to advance to the semifinals.
There won’t be any similar upsets on Friday night.
In the 1-4 games, Reed will handle Douglas and Carson should survive Spanish Springs.
In the first 2-3 matchup, McQueen’s defense has become leaky and Galena’s ground game should take advantage. The Lancers’ offense was explosive against a good Reno defense last week, with a backup quarterback, but it doesn’t get any easier on the road against another tough defense in Galena.
In the other, Damonte Ranch’s underachieving offense will attempt to put points on the board, on the road, against one of the best defenses in the North (minus last week) in Reno. Defensively, Damonte has been above average this year but few units have been able to slow Reno’s ground-and-pound offense.
Galena and Reno will prevail and the semifinals will feature a pair of 1-2 matchups next week.
2. Spanish Springs will put scare into Carson
The Senators are the class of the Sierra League. There is no debating that.
In the last two years, Carson has lost just one home game—where it will host Friday night’s semifinal. The team it lost its only home game to in that span? Yup, Spanish Springs.
The Cougs managed just four wins a season ago but one of them came in Week 4 at Carson, 28-27.
Spanish Springs and Carson met this year, in Spanish Springs, and the Senators pulled out an uninspiring 28-6 win—its second-lowest scoring output of the season.
Carson didn’t look particularly dominant in Thursday’s win at Douglas, either.
The Senators have too much talent to lose this game. But it will be closer than people think.
3. Reed and Carson will meet in title game—again
In what has become a Northern Nevada prep football tradition, the Raiders and Senators will play for the right to be regional champ.
It will be the third-straight year the two squads play in the final game of the year before the state tournament.
Reed will play the winner of McQueen and Galena in the semifinals and has handled the two teams by a combined score of 105-47. Carson will get the winner of Damonte Ranch and Reno and while neither of those are a gimme, Carson coach Blair Roman always has his squad playing its best ball of the year in this tournament
Carson hasn’t played Reno this year, unfortunately, but did play Damonte Ranch, sneaking past the Mustangs at home, 17-14, in Week 6.
Reed and Carson kicked off the year against each (44-27 Reed win at Mackay Stadium), and they will end it against each other.
4. Raiders will hang another banner
Okay, Reed doesn’t technically have banners in its gym anymore but you know what I mean.
The Raiders will win their fifth-straight regional title.
This appears to be one of coach Ernie Howren’s best squads during the run of four-straight regional titles and five in the last six years. That’s particularly true for the offense which is one of the best in Nevada large-school history.
Reed’s 540 points are already the 13th most ever recorded by a large school and it is fathomable for the Blue and Gold to break into the top three with a playoff run.
5. Gorman will win its seventh-straight state title
This is hardly fearless. I would bet my mortgage on this, if I had one.
Gorman playing for state titles in football, along with basketball, has made a mockery of the NIAA playoff system but as long as the Gaels are competing, they’re going to win.
That could potentially be changing, however. Potentially is the key word here.
The NIAA Board of Control is holding a “special meeting” on Wednesday with three items on the agenda. One item is the review of a proposal from Paragon Marketing. The firm would pay the NIAA a base fee and the state’s prep athletic governing would allow a selected member school to compete in a national postseason bowl game and basketball tournament.
I wonder what school they could be talking about?
By the way, the DI North champion will play the Sunset champion (i.e. Gorman) in the state semifinals.