After an entertaining final week of the regular season, the high school football playoffs are set in Northern Nevada.
Spanish Springs claimed its first High Desert League title and the No. 1 seed in the process by knocking off rival Reed, 21-16 on Thursday. The Cougs (7-3, 4-0) will host the No. 4 seed Galena (2-8, 2-3) from the Sierra League in Friday’s opening quarterfinal playoff game at 7 p.m. The two teams met earlier this season when Spanish Springs blanked the Grizzlies 40-0 on Sept. 14.
The loss proved to be critical for the defending 4A Regional champion Raiders as they dropped to the No. 4 seed and will now take on an undefeated Damonte Ranch team Friday. The Mustangs (10-0, 5-0) are coming off of a 55-0 rout of Galena Thursday and haven’t been tested yet this season in the state of Nevada. Their closest game this year was a 20-15 win at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif. on Sept. 14. They’ve outscored their opponents 265-28 over the last four games.
Damonte Ranch last lost a football game on Nov. 17 last year in the regional semifinals to Reed, 31-27.
Reed could have snagged the top seed and first place had they knocked off the Cougs Thursday, but the loss dropped them to 2-2 and tied with Reno and McQueen for second place. The Raiders fell to the four seed based on point differential after McQueen knocked off Reno, 31-16. McQueen will host Douglas and Reno will play at Bishop Manogue in the other two games. The four winners will play Nov. 9 with the title game the following week.
In Thursday’s game, the Cougs jumped out to an early 14-7 lead and led 21-7 after three quarters. A late 9-0 surge by the Raiders fell short in the final quarter.
Jackson Laduke carried the ball just five times in the game for the Cougs but made the most of them with the only two rushing touchdowns of the game by either team. Jordan Dudick caught the lone Spanish Springs touchdown thrown by Tristan Szabo, who was picked off three times by the Reed defense. Baylor Horning completed 18-of-29 pass attempts for the Raiders and threw a pair of touchdown passes to fellow senior Tyler Wilson.