This week in football: Incline visits rival NT Saturday, South Tahoe, Whittell both host Friday night |

This week in football: Incline visits rival NT Saturday, South Tahoe, Whittell both host Friday night

Incline quarterback Dylan Cleary (front) is redy to face North Tahoe behind his offensive line of (from left) Topher Vaughan, Josh Murillo, Shane Green, Jack Reber and Julian Cardiel..
Provided / Rob Green

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline football has had a whole week off to celebrate it’s season opening victory and to prepare for this week’s clash against rival North Tahoe.

The Highlanders beat down Valley Christian 57-12 at home Friday, Aug. 23, and will hit the road Saturday for about a 10-minute trip to Tahoe City.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

The Highlanders are cautiously optimistic after jumping all over Valley Christian in week one.

“The boys played good, hard, aggressive football, but there is plenty of work to do if we want to keep winning,” said Highlanders head coach Brian Martinez.

Incline (1-0) rolled past the Lakers last year 39-28 and led at one point 26-6 and 26-14 at halftime before North Tahoe scored a couple of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Most of the Highlanders that were on the team a year ago have returned while North Tahoe lost their star quarterback, Thomas Mercogliano, who almost single-handedly kept the Lakers in the game with 286 yards throwing and 202 rushing, to graduation.

Incline third-year starting quarterback Dylan Cleary enjoyed a monster game last year as well throwing for 267 yards and two touchdowns and also rushing for 152 yards and another score.

Junior Brad Rye provided the Highlanders with a 1-2 punch by rushing for 100 yards and three TDs while also making six receptions for 73 yards and touchdown.

But more than numbers and points, when these schools meet there’s more on the line.

“There is pride in your school, pride in your town and pride in who gets to claim the North Shore,” Martinez said. “The boys all know each other and tend to elevate their efforts when playing each other. The team who makes the least amount of mistakes should come out on top.”

Martinez also expects the atmosphere to be electric even though the game will be played in the afternoon.

Some of the kids played together in youth football and it’s the easiest road trip of the season when the schools meet making it convenient for fans to be there.

“It’s always exciting to play your rival,” Martinez said. “It’s even more so when you grew up playing Pop Warner together. The intensity goes up, the stakes are higher and the crowd knows it. It should be a really exciting game.”

South Tahoe seeks league win against Sparks at home

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Tahoe stormed out of the gates with a dominating victory but were beaten last week in the 3A Northern League opener.

The Vikings throttled Arcata 49-28 Aug. 24 in the season opener but fell 36-12 last week to the Elko Indians in eastern Nevada.

“In Game 1, we operated at a high level offensively,” said Vikings head coach Louis Franklin. “We have high expectations for the offense this year. Against Elko, we just didn’t execute, had dropped passes, procedure penalties and gave up sacks.”

The Vikings have had some superlative performances on offense over the first two weeks from their quarterback Jake Tarwater, running back James Adams and receivers Mason Hage and Giovani Medina Morales.

Tarwater has already thrown for 606 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 64% of his passes (32 for 50).

“Jake, he just looks like a big time guy now the way he throws the ball and physically,” Franklin said. “He’s a better leader and everyone that has seen him is so impressed from last year.”

He is targeting his junior receivers most of the time.

Hage has hauled in a team-high 18 receptions for 340 yards and four touchdowns and Medina Morales has seven grabs for 191 yards and two scores.

But aside from the catches, Franklin is thrilled with their physicality.

Adams, a sophomore, has been electric in the backfield. He has averaged over 10 yards per carry in his first two games. He has 354 yards on 35 carries for two touchdowns.

James had a great summer and we knew what we were getting,” Franklin said. “We’re not surprised with how hard he works. He does things the right way. And the wide receivers, they were injured most of last year, and this year, not only are they catching the ball, but their downfield blocking has been impressive. We pride ourselves on that.”

South Tahoe (1-1, 1-0 3A Northern League) will look to double its win total from a year ago tonight against the Sparks Railroaders (1-1, 0-1 Northern) on the South Shore.

Sparks, just like South Tahoe, cruised in its opener beating Hug 34-0 but lost last week 25-7 against Lowry.

“Sparks will make us work for everything we get,” Franklin said. “Being at home should help give us confidence. We’ve just got to do what we do and clean up some things.”

Whittell gets reinforcements, looks to bounce back

ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — Whittell ran onto the field last week for its season-opening football game and had just eight players available and dressed, the minimum to play.

The Warriors also didn’t play their preseason scrimmage game so it was “trial by fire,” said Warriors second-year head coach Doug Patton.

The Warriors (0-1) suffered a 64-18 non-conference loss on their home field to Mineral County, who avenged last year’s 60-56 Whittell victory.

“It was pretty rough, but in spite of playing with just eight players and having no subs, the kids played as hard as they could all game long,” Patton said. “We fought them hard but tiredness and players playing foreign positions for the first time caught up to us around halfway through the second quarter.”

Patton was pleased with performances from his running back Jack White and quarterback Malachi Womack.

“Whitey certainly established himself as a premier back in the league and Malachi did the same at quarterback,” Patton said.

The Warriors will have four extra players in uniform tonight at 7 when they host Eureka, a playoff team from last year who also defeated Whittell early in the season.

Patton said it’s business as usual and they’re not thinking about last year, but about controlling the line of scrimmage this year.

“Eureka has always been a run-first team,” Patton said. “If we can control the line then we will do just fine. Having four extra players will help give some rest to key players at key times.”

Patton said he expects his group to continue to give 100% effort and get their first win of the season.

“I expect us to play hard all game as usual,” Patton said, “and do our best to put up some points on the scoreboard and play Warrior football.”

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