Vikings end 10-game skid at homecoming
Defense set the tone. Then quarterback Anthony Stagnaro and multi-purpose back Chris Diana provided the offensive spark that helped propel the South Tahoe High football team to a 20-10 homecoming victory against Wooster on Saturday afternoon.
Stagnaro threw a 50-yard touchdown strike to Diana to start a run in which the Vikings scored 20 points during a time span of 1 minute, 16 seconds en route to their first win of the season – and first league win since 2004.
It was certainly a big win for South Tahoe (1-2 league, 1-4 overall).
“We definitely needed it, especially this being homecoming,” said Diana, who rushed for 92 yards and caught two passes for another 75 yards. “We were ready to play today.”
Meanwhile, South Tahoe’s defense came through with two vital goal-line stands, including an early stop when the two teams were still locked in a scoreless tie. Overall, the defensive unit came up with four fumble recoveries, three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and two quarterback sacks.
“I can’t say enough about this defense,” said coach Mike Gorman, who celebrated his first win as South Tahoe’s head coach. “We said all week, if we can control the line of scrimmage, we can be successful on defense, and the kids really rose to the occasion. They were able to control the line of scrimmage.”
The Vikings got a boost from that defense with that goal-line stand at the end of the first quarter and outset of the second.
Wooster drove to first-and-goal at the 5 behind the running of 6-foot, 220-pound running back Junior Tautolo, only to come away empty-handed. First down was a key, as Tautolo busted through the line, only to be dragged down from behind short of the goal line by Chris Eidam. Clarence Grey led a charge that stopped Tautolo for no gain on second down, then the Colts’ big back was met in the backfield for a two-yard loss by Shayne Jones to end the first quarter. Wooster went for the touchdown on fourth down, but Tautolo was again stopped short of the goal line by South Tahoe’s defensive wall.
“That pumped us up right there,” Diana said. “We were confident coming into the game and that really got us going. We were like, ‘Let’s do it right now.'”
The Vikings received another spark moments later when Diana swept around his right end, cut back behind a block from Matt Yuen, and ran 66 yards to the Wooster 30. The Vikings eventually turned the ball over on downs – but they were now in control of the battle for field position.
The rewards came after South Tahoe got a third-down quarterback sack from Kevin Lucero that forced a Wooster punt. Eidam returned the punt 17 yards to midfield. One play later, Stagnaro threw a strike to Diana, who was alone on a sideline pattern and eluded one defender at the 14 on his way to the end zone.
“Tony was throwing the ball super. He was good all day,” Diana said of Stagnaro, who completed four of his first five passes and finished 5 of 12 and 118 yards.
As it turned out, the Vikings were just getting started. Mike Burns recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and on the first down play, Stagnaro found Lucero wide open coming out of the backfield for a 32-yard touchdown pass to make it 12-0.
The two touchdown passes were basically the same call, according to Gorman.
“We were trying to isolate the running back on the linebacker,” the coach said. “That should be a mismatch.”
South Tahoe’s defense came up big again three plays after that when sophomore Gary Prescott intercepted a screen pass and returned the ball 20 yards for a touchdown. A run by Grey, a 290-pound fullback, for the 2-point conversion gave the Vikings a 20-0 lead.
The extra cushion helped, given the crazy way the first half ended – five turnovers, three on lost fumbles and two interceptions, as well as a safety in the final 2:49. Wooster scored two points when the Vikings were called for offensive holding in the end zone with 43.5 seconds left before halftime.
South Tahoe’s defense denied the Colts an opportunity to get back in the game with another goal-line stand in the fourth quarter. Miles Wallace and Grey stopped Matt Trabert on a quarterback sneak from the 1 on second down, Diana stuffed Ryan Willaman for a 1-yard loss on third down, then Cory Wells and Yuen combined to trap Trabert short of the goal line on fourth down.
“The D-linemen were great,” Diana said. “They were taking out the blockers; that made it easy for the linebackers to see where the ball was and make plays.”
Wooster got on the scoreboard with 5:28 remaining when Tautolo powered into the end zone on a 1-yard run. The Colts finished with 156 yards rushing and only 50 yards passing.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, this is a good football team,” Gorman said. “Nobody likes to lose. It’s just a matter of developing some consistency and getting the kids to believe in themselves. Now, with the taste of victory, I think you’re going to see a different team the rest of the season. I know they’ll be fired up and ready to get after it when they come back out for practice Monday.”
South Tahoe has a short week coming up, with a game Thursday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. against league rival Douglas that will be played at Whittell High. The JV and freshman games will be played at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Carson High.
Douglas 3-0 4-2
Reno 2-1 4-2
North Valleys 2-1 4-2
Hug 2-1 2-4
Carson 1-2 2-4
Damonte Ranch 1-2 1-4
South Tahoe 1-2 1-4
Wooster 0-3 0-6
South Tahoe 20, Wooster 10
Wooster 0 2 0 8 – 10
So. Tahoe 0 20 0 0 – 20
ST-Diana 50 pass from Stagnaro (kick failed), 6:20
ST-Lucero 32 pass from Stagnaro (kick failed), 5:31
ST-Prescott 20 interception return (Grey run), 5:04
W-Safety, offensive holding called in the end zone, :43.5
W-Tautolo 1 run (Greene pass from Trabert), 5:28
Rushing – W (44-156) Tautolo 29-114, Marshall 5-36, Willaman 3-12, Trabert 7-(minus 6). ST (39-134) Diana 10-92, Pekar 7-15, Klug 6-14, Jones 6-9, Fonken 2-8, Grey 1-5, Stagnaro 7-(minus 9).
Passing – W: Trabert 3-18-3-50. ST: Stagnaro 5-12-1-118.
Receiving – W: Baraza 2-30, Greene 1-28. ST: Diana 2-75, Lucero 2-41, Klug 1-2.
Total offense: Wooster 206, South Tahoe 252
Offensive plays: Wooster 65, South Tahoe 55
Rushing yards: Wooster 156, South Tahoe 134
Passing yards: Wooster 50, South Tahoe 118
First downs: Wooster 8, South Tahoe 7
Fumbles-lost: Wooster 5-4, South Tahoe 3-2
Punting: Wooster 3-40.6, South Tahoe 4-37.6
Penalties: Wooster 2-20, South Tahoe 12-88