Highlander football storms past Longhorns, ready for Coral Academy

Incline ball carrier Joe Duran pushes away a Battle Mountain defender last week.
Provided/Jen Suter

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline Village football may be stronger than ever.

The Highlanders have rolled to consecutive victories, including a dominating 21-0 homecoming win over Battle Mountain marking the third straight year they beat the perennial powerhouse in the 2A Northern League.

“Battle Mountain is always one of the top teams,” said Incline Head Coach Brian Martinez. “We’ve got a big, strong team this year with a lot of heart.”

Incline last year was one of the best 2A teams in the state during a COVID-shortened season where there were no playoffs or championships to be chased.

“We lost 12 seniors, who we basically built this program around and it was tough for those kids,” Martinez said. “It’s a shame they didn’t get to play for a championship last season, but this team this year is every bit as good. We have high hopes.”

Elbert Zender looks for room to run last week against Battle Mountain.
Provided/Jen Suter

Incline started this season ready for a rematch with Pershing County, the team that handed the Highlanders their lone loss last year, in overtime. Well, ready as can be when the team was shut down for two weeks because of hazardous smoke in the basin which led to zero scrimmages and not much practice time on the field.

But two days prior, Pershing officials called to cancel the game due to COVID issues.

Incline went on the search to find a replacement and Sparks answered the call. With just 24 hours notice, the Railroaders agreed to travel to the North Shore.

“We called and asked if they could play and they came up,” Martinez said. “They are a class program from players to the coaches.”

The Highlanders enjoyed the lead after the first quarter but Sparks rallied to win 19-10.

“We gained a lot from that game,” Martinez said. “Different division, much bigger school, but our guys didn’t flinch.”

Since then, Incline has not given up a point in nine quarters, including shutting out West Wendover and Battle Mountain while scoring 62 points.

Quarterback Nick Suter enjoyed a big game against Battle Mountain. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 79 yards and also rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.

Joe Duran added 102 yards on 20 attempts as the Highlanders line play did whatever they wanted with the Longhorns.

“We have strong kids on the offensive and defensive lines and they are controlling the games and making it happen for us,” Martinez said.

Elbert Zender was the team’s leading receiver with three receptions for 55 yards. Duran added three grabs for 15 yards.

Freshman defensive starter Colin Combs made a team-high 11 tackles, including one for a loss, and through three games is the team’s leading tackler.

The defense overall made eight tackles for loss and surrendered just 82 total years, including 68 on the ground.

This Friday, Incline (2-1) will travel to Wooster High School in Reno to take on Coral Academy (1-3), a team that put up 63 points last week in a 30-point victory over Silver Stage.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

“We watched film and our game plan is a lot of defense,” Martinez said. “We don’t want to get into a shootout with them.”

Incline’s offensive and defensive lines are leading the way this year.
Provided/Jen Suter

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