Sierra Division leaders don’t allow Vikings to build momentum
By Steve Yingling
Tribune Sports Editor
The timing for South Tahoe High to play league-leading Reno wasn’t the best on Saturday.
Coming off an emotional homecoming victory and their first win in more than a year last week, the Vikings were poised to continue their momentum.
Someone forgot to inform the Huskies (5-2 overall, 4-0 division).
Although the Vikings were game, Reno’s size, skill and numbers wore down the home team in the Huskies’ 41-6 Sierra Division win in Viking Bowl.
Reno showcased a balanced attack, rushing for 230 yards and four touchdowns and passing for 224 yards and two scores – most of it before halftime.
South Tahoe displayed resiliency in the second half, battling the Huskies to a 6-6 tie. Tailback Nathan Pedrajita, the Vikings’ fourth starting back of the season, rushed for 70 yards, including a one-yard touchdown plunge with 76 seconds left.
“It was good for us to be able to hang our hats on something at the end of the game,” said South Tahoe coach Chris Morgan. “My hat is off to the 18 kids who showed up to play 50 other kids from a bigger school; the score was probably what you’d expect out of that, but we played to the end.”
Pedrajita came away impressed with the Huskies.
“I got my butt whooped from the start to pretty much the finish,” he said. “But I never gave up. The team relied on me, and I couldn’t let them down.”
Reno’s only serious mistake in 48 minutes happened on the opening kickoff when the Vikings recovered a fumble at the Huskies’ 39.
“That’s how you want to start the game,” Morgan said. “But we couldn’t get in any kind of rhythm and again we had to move guys around.”
A holding penalty and Damon Lewis’ quarterback sack stifled the drive.
The Huskies, however, scored on its next four possessions to build a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Senior quarterback Glenn Wallace, calling the plays at the line of scrimmage, tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Wood to open the scoring. Cruise McClure bolted 27 yards into the end zone, Kevin Kahan ran 25 yards for a score and Brennan Caverhill powered his way three yards across the goal line as the Huskies rolled to a 28-0 lead.
The drive that broke the Vikings’ back, though, followed a skillfully placed 36-yard punt by Gary Prescott that pinned Reno on its 5 just before halftime. But it was more than enough time for Reno as it used a string of short passes and a 15-yard reverse to Wood to reach the Vikings’ 45. With the clock ticking inside 20 seconds to play, Kirk Wirgler took a screen pass from Wallace and dashed untouched for a 45-yard score and a 35-0 lead.
Reno constantly harassed junior quarterback Willy Ervin, forcing the Vikings to go with shorter pass patterns.
“They rushed a lot of guys, which is hard to take time to read,” Ervin said. “They were better than us.”
Tony Stagnaro led the Vikings with six receptions for 47 yards, and Chris Klug returned the second half kickoff for 51 yards before being dropped at the Reno 39. Klug also blocked a Reno extra point. Morgan was pleased with the defensive play of Chris Eidam, Klug and Prescott.
STHS (1-6, 1-3) plays at Wooster on Saturday.
“The big thing was that we came out healthy, especially going into the last part of the season where we think have a chance to get a couple more wins, ” Morgan said.