The Raiders are the team to beat in the 4A North regional tournament that starts on Friday night.
That is not a hot take. It’s a chilly one. It’s almost become expected. That’s what Ernie Howren has built.
Reed has rattled off nine-straight wins since taking an L in the season opener at Clayton Valley Charter and is three more from winning its sixth straight regional title, and seventh in eight years.
This year’s seniors class was in seventh grade when the string of regional championships began. That’s absurd. Howren and his staff have established a system within Reed’s boundaries that not only produces talent, but develops it once it gets into the high school program.
Other programs in Northern Nevada have developed similar systems that create consistency (Carson and Reno most notably), but none compare to Howren’s. See: Banners.
Many, myself included, said this was the year the Raiders would come back to the pack. All Howren and his bunch have done since is told us to shut up. And they put an exclamation point on it.
Junior quarterback Camerson Emerson is just the next in a lengthy line of stellar Reed signal callers. Senior running back Tre Bussey has almost made Jorden Carter’s departure go unnoticed. Carter was the best running back in Northern Nevada last year. Senior receivers Robert Ferrel and Michael Spivack are the best pass-catching tandem in the 4A North and it’s not close. The offensive line continues to plow defensive fronts.
And that’s just the offense.
Some, myself included (again), said the offense would have to pick up the defense’s slack this year. Nope.
That unit is good enough to win a regional title with just an ordinary offense. And everyone is well aware Reed doesn’t do ordinary when it has the ball.
Even with the wealth of talent, Reed has work to do over the next month to keep the streak alive and play post-Thanksgiving once again.
Reno gave Reed its best game (against 4A North competition). The Raiders recovered two fumbles in the end zone, one for a touchdown and one for a touchback, in a 28-14 win. Maybe Reno steals a win if the ball bounces differently. Or maybe, good teams create the bounces.
Perhaps the biggest threat comes out of the Sierra League. Damonte Ranch. The Mustangs are the only team in the field that has an offense that can keep up with Reed’s. Sophomore quarterback Cade McNamara is probably the best in the region. When Damonte opts to keep it on the ground behind its powerful offensive line, Cameron Sandoval can certainly carry the load.
Because Reed won the High Desert League title, it put itself in a position where it will avoid seeing either Reno or Damonte Ranch until the title game. Reno and Damonte Ranch are on a collision course to play in the semifinals next week.
To get to that game, Reed will first have to handle Bishop Manogue at home on Friday, and the winner of Spanish Springs-Douglas in the semis.
The foundation has been poured and dried. Now, the Raiders just need to build a house/regional title on it. Construction starts Friday night.
Nathan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning.