Lancers would have loved a shot at De La Salle
Admit it. You thought about the dream high school football matchup at least once or twice while the schools were steamrolling their opponents en route to perfect seasons.
Heck, if you would have had more nerve, you would have called McQueen coach Ken Dalton and De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur’s for their final team statistics so you could simulate a game on your home computer.
Nevada state champion McQueen, which has won two of the past three titles, and the nation’s top-ranked program De La Salle of Concorde, Calif., have never met on the football field. If they could have played this fall, the game probably would have outdrawn the Nevada-UNLV game.
De La Salle capped another undefeated season on Saturday with a 42-14 thumping of San Leandro in the California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section Class 4A final. I can now tell my oldest son that the Spartans’ streak of consecutive unbeaten season now numbers 11, a year older than he is.
While quietly last Saturday in Las Vegas, McQueen punctuated a 14-0 season with a 38-7 state championship cakewalk over Desert Pines of Las Vegas. In what may never be eclipsed by another Nevada prep football team, the Lancers finished the season surrendering 35 points, outscoring foes 48.4 to 2.5 per game. De La Salle surrendered 102 points in 2002.
“I didn’t expect that score (in the finals); maybe in the semifinal, I could see that. They were a dominating team,” said STHS interim football coach Chris Morgan, whose Vikings were one of five teams to score against the Lancers this season.
De La Salle finished No. 1 in the Student Sports Fab 50 national football, while McQueen crept into the 46th slot this week.
What if the Lancers had played De La Salle this season?
“Would they win? That’s why they play the game,” Morgan said. “De La Salle has been so dominating and they are beating some tough competition. It would be good for the league as a whole if McQueen could play Grant and Nevada Union, so they can show that our caliber of football in Northern Nevada is pretty good.”
Dalton’s gang would have relished an opportunity to end the Spartans’ 138-game winning streak this season.
“They certainly would,” said Dalton, who has directed the Lancers to five state championships since starting the program in 1982 when McQueen opened. “The thing is we have a confident bunch. They would have loved the opportunity to play a top-rated California school. That would have been exciting this year.”
Such a meeting likely won’t happen in the near future since the Spartans’ schedule is done five years in advance.
“It’s pretty tough to break into that and you never know what kind of team you’re going to have five years from now,” Dalton said. “You certainly wouldn’t want to have an average team and play a top team like De La Salle.”
Most of De La Salle’s nonleague games are made-for-TV matchups against Southern California powerhouse Long Beach Poly and the best Hawaii has to offer. But the Spartans have played Nevada Union of Grass Valley during their invincible 11-year winning streak.
Dalton hasn’t shied away from scheduling tough nonleague games in recent years. The Lancers lost to Granite Bay, Calif., 21-20 in overtime one year and thumped Del Oro 36-7 in 1996. Carolina Panthers quarterback Randy Fasani, who went on to star for Stanford, played for Del Oro that season.
“Anytime you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you play the schedule you have and if you’re fortunate to have a bye week, go out and schedule a pretty good team,” Dalton said.
The difference between California’s and Nevada’s unbeaten, as Dalton puts it, is where those players will be playing next year.
“The difference there is that they will have 15 Division I players from their team. That shows you the talent level a school like that has,” Dalton said.
But the most talented team doesn’t always win on the field. The Houston Texans proved that Sunday in Pittsburgh.
I can only hope that Playstation introduces a high school football game for Christmas.
— Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or email@example.com
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