Sprinkles in the forecast?
South Tahoe’s recipe for football surprise on Friday night will include a dash of Jake Hurwitz, but at least officially, no sprinkles of you-know-who.
South Tahoe head coach Tim Jaureguito named junior quarterback Jarred Uppendahl his starter for Friday’s game, a rematch with Reno. Jaureguito listed the prospects for using senior quarterback Tim Sprinkles, who has missed South Tahoe’s last two games with a knee injury, as doubtful.
Last year, Reno turned a 26-10 Vikings lead at halftime into a 43-26 Huskies win. And Reno head coach Brian Rothe was very clear about what kind of game he wants to see Friday when his Huskies – who are struggling with rush defense – try to contain Hurwitz.
“We don’t want it to be a track meet,” Rothe said. “He’s a 100-yard champ.”
Hurwitz has rushed for 582 yards and five touchdowns this season, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. In contrast, Reno’s defense has given up 912 yards in four games, and ranks 11th out of the league’s 13 teams. It’s no secret the Huskies will keep a close watch on Hurwitz.
“That’s fine with me,” Hurwitz said. “I have confidence in our line, and they’ve been doing it all year. I’m just looking to do my best. Tim and Jarred have pulled through day in and day out. They’re getting the job done.”
Sprinkles injured his knee against Lowry Sept. 3 and missed the win over Douglas and loss to Hug. He estimated he split practice snaps about 50-50 with Uppendahl this week.
“I’m good to go,” said Sprinkles, the senior who started two games before tearing his mediocollateral ligament against Lowry on Sept. 3. “I feel 100 percent.”
“That’s coach’s decision,” Sprinkles said. “However he decides to do it, whatever he decides for the team is OK.”
Jaureguito gave Uppendahl the starting nod. Hurwitz’s presence should safeguard his quarterback from too many Huskies blitzes because Rothe doesn’t want to lose containment on the elusive halfback.
“You don’t want to get caught blitzing too much because a guy like Jake Hurwitz will find the crack and make the play,” Rothe said. “The last couple of games, he’s proven to be the lion’s share of the offense.”
Reno’s offense is no less potent, though. The Huskies boast the league’s top receiver, the league’s top quarterback – and another quarterback in the top 10. Senior Marc Kaiser propelled himself to 10th in the passing ratings in two starts, but junior Sean Davis has been even more impressive. Davis leads the Northern Nevada 4A with a 192.29 rating in two games, which has allowed Kaiser, a senior, to split his time between kicking, punting, and playing defensive back.
Meanwhile, Davis has been turning Reno’s senior receivers, Scott Beveridge and Ryan Kane, into the league’s top tandem. Beveridge leads the league with 439 yards on 21 catches, while Kane is sixth, with 23 catches for 232 yards.
Running back Marcus Corley gives the offense another dimension. The school district has reinstated Corley after a two-game suspension, and he has scored 30 points in just two games. Rothe could not comment on the reason for the suspension since the matter still is under litigation.
“Without (Corley), we struggled a little bit, and have to go to the air very often,” Rothe said.
South Tahoe, though, has a defensive backfield that has improved vastly over last season’s. Matt George leads the Vikings in interceptions, and played a huge role in leading the team to a win over Douglas on Sept. 10, blocking an attempt at a game-winning field goal.
The defense was one of the big reasons South Tahoe started the season 3-0. In giving up 256 yards of total offense to Hug, it also was a reason the Vikings now are 3-1.
Friday’s game stands as an important measuring stick for both teams: Reno is 2-2 with losses to 4A powers McQueen and Reed, and wins over Fallon and Carson – both of which are winless in the division. The Reno game proved a turning point for South Tahoe’s team last season. After the Huskies completed their improbable comeback, South Tahoe lost four of its next five.
“We’ll see what happens on the field, but it’s a big game for us, because we feel after you win three games in league, you pretty much have a playoff spot wrapped up,” Rothe said.
South Tahoe and Reno kick off Friday’s game at 6:30 p.m. in Reno.
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