Congratulations to Head Coach Ernie Howren, his staff, and team; they executed a brilliant game plan Monday night. Howren has gotten his teams to State nine teams since 2004 and Monday night Howren’s squad earned a State semi-final spot by playing very well on both sides of the ball. On the offensive side, the Miners dedication to the run paid off as they kept the chains moving and put 24 points on the board against a stout Damonte defense. On the defensive side, the Miners held the Mustangs offense in-check with the opening drive being the lone exception.
I have seen every snap of every quarter this season and Monday night something looked different, the Mustangs didn’t execute their trademark “Fast & Mean” style of ball. One has to wonder how much of an impact the four-day turnaround had on the Mustangs. They played a physical Reed Raiders team Wednesday night at Damonte and then had 96 hours to prepare for the Miners who played Monday night with fresh legs, coming off a nine-day break. It is your author’s opinion that both games should have been played on Wednesday night, November 20th, to ensure competitive balance and player safety. I have not heard why the SSSH vs BMHS game was not moved, but I have heard why the 4A Northern Title Game could not be moved: the Bishop Gorman Gaels had already made their travel plans and refused to change them for financial reasons, meaning they had already paid for their trip to Reno to play in the 4A semi-final, which makes the loss to Liberty all the more interesting, maybe they sold their travel plan to the Patriots though.
The following Mustangs suited up for the final time for Damonte Monday night at Reno High School: Trent Patterson, Christian Jamison, Dylan Franklin, Ethan Hamilton, Jaeden Imgard, Tyler Holman, Carter Lewis, Dallin Meidell, Erick Hernandez, Ivan Hernandez, and Adin Ault. These guys led the team to a fourth straight Sierra League title, successfully defended the Cross Saw, and won two playoff games. Jamison and Carter were team captains. Jamison may have eclipsed a record or two on the defensive side of the ball and I believe Holman played every snap on offense for the Mustangs this season. Ault won the Reviglio “Way To Go” Award and his interview aired at halftime of Monday night’s game.
If the Mustangs were being traded on the stock market, their future fortunes would be trending up. They return a number of key starters including the Silver State’s leading rusher, Ashton Hayes, starting quarterback Ethan Kulpin, leading receiver Nick Vargas, linebackers Carson Smith and Conner Hogan, safety Ty Polson, cornerback Justin Harley, linebacker and running back Ryan Mandichak, kicker Benny Marshall, punter and offensive specialist Cade Rodahaffer, and linemen Cole West, Ilex Garcia, Francisco Garcia, Chris Gonzalez, and Derek Montoya. Sophomore Darian Vigil terrorized defenses this season and sits at tenth in the State in total tackles with 78. Tyler Clark was playing on both sides of the ball prior to his injury. Ian Williams comes back; he had a great year playing wideout for the Mustangs. Christian Iacoboni, defensive back and wideout, will earn a letter and come back next season. Finally, freshman Weston Smith will battle Kulpin for the starting quarterback role.
I would like to thank the coaches for all the time they put in as well as the dedication they show to the players and Damonte Ranch community. A big thanks to Katy Stromswold, the team trainer, who takes care of the players during games and practice. Thank you to Krystal Evans and the cheer teams; rain or shine, hot or cold, they are on the sideline cheering the team on. Thank you to the Damonte Ranch Marching Band and director Christiana Blahnik; their presence at the home games (and they were there Monday night as well) makes a huge difference. The team managers (Jake, Vivian, Charlotte, Gabby, and Destiny) deserve some appreciation; they are out there every day at practice, home and away games. Thank you to all the volunteers working chains, in the concessions stand, filming, and so on; nobody knows how much work goes into a DRFP game night. Grace Oksol and Zane Bhurgari deserve a big thanks for leading the Blue Hole this Fall. The administration and staff work very hard to ensure that our DRFP games run smoothly and are a success. Finally, thank you to all the fans and supporters, DRFP appreciates every single one of you.
About Your Author: Lynn Ault announces a number of sports at Damonte and is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative to the school as well. His daughter graduated from Damonte; she played basketball and cheered. His son is as senior at Damonte and wears number 77 on this year's football team. Lynn's wife, A'Laina, teaches math and is the head of the math department at Damonte.