I went on my weekly radio show Friday afternoon and picked the Galena-Spanish Springs boys basketball game that would be played six hours later.
My pick: Galena.
My reasoning: Dillon Voyles.
Spanish Springs held the 4A North Player of the Year candidate to 10 points and put together a balanced offensive attack, picking up a resounding 58-42 victory.
“Wow! They (Cougars) are legit,” one 4A North coach texted me later that night.
The win not only moved the Cougars to 4-0 in regional play, it put them one step ahead of the rest of the High Desert League with one of the tougher games on the schedule in the rear view.
Marcus Loadholt is in the conversation along with Voyles for best player in the region and scored a game-high 23 points. He got red hot early in the third quarter and helped the Cougs build an insurmountable lead.
What makes Spanish Springs particularly scary isn’t just Loadholt. It’s the help he gets. The presence of Bryce DeLong (15 points in the win), Jalen Townsell (12 points) as well as 2015-16 first-team all-league forward Josh Prizina gives opponents a lot to think about.
When the offense isn’t working, coach Kyle Penney’s defense is just as formidable. The Cougars won the turnover battle on Friday night, 20-7.
It was just one game. There’s obviously a possibility we’ll look back on Spanish Springs’ rout of Galena in February and ask, ‘did that really happen?’
But until then, it was a statement victory. And it was resounding.
They (Cougars) are legit.
Pigskin will be flying at Mackay next year
New Nevada football coach Jay Norvell said at last week’s introductory press conference the offense will air it out next fall. He wasn’t kidding.
Norvell hired Matt Mumme to be the offensive coordinator, replacing Tim Cramsey who took over last year, coming from Montana State.
Mumme has made a number of coaching stops, but has spent the past three seasons as the head coach at LaGrange College – an NCAA Div. III program in Georgia.
His air-it-out offense led the USA South Conference in passing all four years at LaGrange (spent one year as offensive coordinator), averaging more than 365 yards per game this season. The Panthers, who finished 3-7 this year, threw the ball 47 times a game.
Mumme was seen with Norvell at the Nevada basketball team’s win over UC Irivine last Wednesday. Footballscoop.com reported the hiring Sunday afternoon. Mumme confirmed his move to Nevada on Twitter hours later.
Fayedra and I are so blessed by the new opportunity at the University of Nevada! We will miss our friends here in LaGrange! Go Wolfpack!
— Matt Mumme (@mcmumme) December 18, 2016
Mumme will work with quarterback Ty Gangi, who took over midway through this season after senior Tyler Stewart suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the home loss against Wyoming. When Gangi, a redshirt sophomore, started seeing significant time the offense went from scoring 20.9 points per game to 31.8. He went 2-2 in four starts.
Gangi completed 59 percent of his passes for 239 yards a game over the final five contests of the season (including the Wyoming loss). He threw eight touchdowns and six interceptions.
The air-raid offense will be an outlier in the run-heavy Mountain West. Only one team in the conference (Boise State) averaged more than 231 passing yards a game this season. Six of the conference’s 12 teams averaged over 200 rushing yards a go.
The offensive overhaul naturally creates some uncertainty for to-be senior running back James Butler and the ground game.
Mumme’s offense averaged just 88 yards on 24 carries a game this fall. Butler was the Mountain West’s fifth-leading rusher (113 yards/game).
Houston caps strong freshman season at San Diego State
Parker Houston, a 2016 Reed graduate, finished his freshman season in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday.
Houston caught one pass for five yards as the Aztecs, the Mountain West champs, routed Houston, 34-10. As big a win as the win was for San Diego State, it may have been even bigger for the Mountain West.
The conference has been the butt of countless jokes this year. The conference champ sticking it to a program like Houston should quite some critics.
The Reed grad’s participation in the swing game for the Mountain West was unforeseen coming into this season. San Diego State coach Rocky Long redshirted Houston at the season’s start, only to burn it a month into the season as he climbed the depth chart in practice.
Houston, who also served as the long snapper for San Diego State, played in 10 games. He caught five passes for 32 yards and one touchdown in the run-heavy system.
He received the program’s Outstanding Freshman Award last Monday.
Houston is hard-nosed player who has a genuine passion for the game. Now former Nevada coach Brian Polian opted not to recruit him out of Reed because he didn’t feel he was big enough (he’s listed at 6-3, 240).
Different players fit into different systems with varying degrees of success, but many Pack fans now have to ask ‘what if?’
They certainly had to ask it after Houston made a highlight reel block on a touchdown in the Aztec’s 46-16 win at Mackay Stadium in November.
— Nathan Shoup (@Trib_Shoup) November 13, 2016
The future is incredibly bright for Houston. This year only proved as evidence. He’s just getting started.
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.