The Defense Makes Its Case: Damonte at Reed
Court was in session Friday night at Reed High School. Presenting on behalf of the offense was Reed High School, and their dynamic duo: quarterback Jack Franz and running back Elijah Tau Tolliver. Franz came into the night leading the North in passing, and Tolliver came in averaging 98 yards per game. Representing the defense, Damonte Ranch High School.
When most people think of Damonte Ranch Football they think of Cade McNamara and a potent offense; quick strikes and big runs. But lost amid the glitz and glamor of the last three Sierra League championships, has been a determined effort to build, and maintain, a solid defensive unit. This year the Mustangs have a number of players excelling on the defensive side of the ball. Carter Lewis, defensive lineman, has established himself as an all-league and possible all-North candidate. Christian Jamison has terrorized opposing offenses this season and will be considered for post season honors as well. Carson Smith broke up a possible touchdown pass, Friday night, and has been a solid linebacker this season. Justin Harley has made some spectacular plays this season. Conner Hogan had a sack/fumble in the first quarter of the game and has made a number of plays this season. Ty Polson and Ethan Kulpin, defensive backs, both had interceptions Friday night. But the unsung heroes would be the defensive lineman: Chris Gonzales, Ivan Hernandez, Ilex Garcia, and Jaeden Imgard. When the Raiders were driving, late in the contest Friday night, Imgard dropped Franz twice in the backfield. Damonte’s defense prides itself in playing well and making life difficult or opposing offenses and that is exactly what they did to Reed Friday night.
The Raiders tried to establish the run time and time again, but neither Tolliver, nor Chance Bustillos, were able to consistently find room to roam. When Franz dropped back he was often forced from the pocket by the Mustangs, had the pocket collapse around him, or had passes intercepted by the Mustangs. On the other side of the ball the Mustangs turned to Ashton Hayes.
Hayes delivered for the Mustangs time and time again Friday night. He has established himself as one of the top running backs in the North, and in the State. Going into Friday night’s games Hayes was fourth in the State, with 162 yards separating him from Reno High’s Drew Worthen, the State leader. So, as both teams stated their case Friday night, the Mustangs position depended on Hayes, and he did not disappoint. Hayes led the Mustangs in touches, yards, and found the endzone. They also depended on Ethan Kulpin to provide the occasional spark. The dual-threat quarterback picked up first downs with his legs and found Mustang receivers with crisp passes.
The night was a tumultuous affair with a lot of flags being thrown. Multiple court bystanders remarked that this particular group has been seen throwing more flags than any other in Northern Nevada. In spite of these objections, the Mustangs were able to pick up their first win, in program history, at Reed High School. On a night when they could have succumbed to the flags, physicality, or turnovers, the Mustangs found a way get the win!
Up Next – at Bishop Manogue