Douglas Tigers Season Preview
The high school football season begins later this month, with that being said we are previewing over twenty teams from our local area. Today's team: Douglas.
2022 record: 1-8 overall, 0-6 league
Head coach: Kyle Mays, third season as head coach at Douglas (2-16 overall, 1-12 league in two seasons at Douglas)
Overview: Nowhere to go but up - that'd be my motto if I were a part of the Douglas Tigers program. Coach Kyle Mays continues to keep an upbeat attitude even though the Tigers have struggled mightily the last two seasons. During our conversation he was very jovial and cracked a few jokes that had us both laughing. Once we got down to business, he was over-the-moon fired up to tell me about this current group of Douglas Tigers.
I'll do my best to explain... Coach Mays identified the key to success for his team this coming season simply stating, "our Senior leadership - we bring back 24-25 seniors and they have been through the ringer the last three seasons; they are motivated and ready to show people they can compete week in and week out." He later stated that they were "the strength of our team." He also stated that if the current class of seniors and juniors "stick together, get along, and be good teammates they can do special things this season" in the newly created 5A, Division-III.
Coach Mays said that each class that comes through the halls of Douglas has "their own personalities," but if the class of 2024 and 2025 can mesh during fall camp they will surely surprise some teams along the way. An Achilles heel of last season's team was that they had low turnout in numbers and had a few players quit throughout the season, most games having only around 28 players suit up on average, including the game against Damonte Ranch where they had a season-low 25 Tigers who were in uniform for Coach Mays and his staff.
The Tigers will continue to operate out of the "Pro Style" offense with a base two-back set where they plan to get downhill. The offense returns eight starters from last season but was dealt an unfortunate blow just a few weeks back, when QB and returning starter Owen Evans broke his collarbone and will be out 6-10 weeks. Coach Mays was hopeful to have Evans back by the start of the league season. The defense will be expected to keep opposing offenses at bay, employing their 3-4 base system that returns nine starters on that side of the ball.
Seniors to watch:
LB Cole Smalley, Senior: Built in the same mold as his older brother Christopher Smalley (Nevada LB), Cole stepped out of his brother's shadow last year and has not looked back. He is like the 'Tasmanian Devil' on the football field. As the saying goes 'The proof is in the pudding' and Smalley has racked up 182 tackles, 17 TFLs, four sacks, two interceptions, and a forced fumble in his two years on varsity. I expect big things from him this season, and when he delivers, the offers will start to roll in with Cornell recently offering and Nevada poking around in Minden once again.
RB Connor Jackson, Senior: One of the area's top returning running backs, Jackson has upped his game each of the past two seasons. Coach Mays was quick to point out that Jackson has gotten "quicker than last year," after he went out for Track this past spring and "worked on his form." He has racked up 662 yards on the ground to go along with five touchdowns and Mays expects him to be the Tigers "workhorse" this coming season while playing defense rotationally. Don't be surprised to see him break a big one in the return game either.
WR/OLB Trace Estes, Senior: An elite three-sport athlete, Estes has the speed to take the top off defenses and make catches beyond the second and third levels. He is a legit 6-foot-4 according to Coach Mays who also displays "zero fear going across the middle." In two years on varsity, he is responsible for 29 receptions, 414 yards and a touchdown as a wide receiver. Defensively he has 62 tackles, 4 TFLs, and two sacks as an outside linebacker. Also, look for WR Aaron Moss to make an impact in a deeper wide receiver core this season.
TE/DL Kyle Koontz, Senior: Koontz, the athletic big man provides a "very specific element" for the Tigers because of his versatility. Offensively he has accounted for 32 receptions and 299 yards, but he does the bulk of his damage on the defensive side of the ball. The impact Koontz has on every game is not always reflected in the box score, but he has still managed to total 36 tackles, a sack and an interception while being a menace in opposing team's backfields.
Don't be surprised by:
QB Owen Evans, Senior: Before his injury, Evans was one of only a handful of returning QBs from last season. Upon his return he will be a problem for opposing defenses, as he has racked up over 1,500 yards of total offense and nine touchdowns in his two-year varsity career. He is a legit dual-threat having broken a 95-yard run last season. Here's to hoping that Evans heals up quick and is ready to go before the league season gets underway.
Big shoutout to the hoggies:
DT/OT Sage Adie, OG Jack Ross and DT Trevor Shaver will be looked upon to keep their offense rolling and shut down opposing offenses this coming season. Coach Mays was quick to point these guys out as true difference makers in the trenches.
Cole Smalley's Bash Brothers:
LB Aaron Tekansik, Senior and LB Zach Westbrook, Senior round out the Tigers 'Three Amigos' expected to get major playing time at linebacker this season. Tekansik, the three-sport athlete, and Westbrook, whom Mays described as "an underrated, smart team guy" have combined for 82 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovered together the last two seasons. They will be expected to set the tone for the defense this season.
Aug. 18 at Argonaut (Jackson, Calif.)
Aug. 25 vs. Elko
Sep. 1 at Spring Creek
Sep. 8 at Damonte Ranch
Sep. 15 vs. Reed
Sep. 22 at Galena
Sep. 29 vs. Hug
Oct. 6 at North Valleys
Oct. 13 vs. Wooster
Oct. 20 vs. Carson
J. Ray Dockter has been covering high school sports since 2022. If you have a story worth telling let him know via Twitter @J_RayDoc.