Vikings take care of Galena, earn shot at Lancers
It’s a good thing South Tahoe High’s defense showed consistency in a Northern Nevada 4A football playoff quarterfinal Saturday in South Lake Tahoe. Otherwise, the Vikings might have been upset by the Galena Grizzlies.
While the Vikings’ high-powered spread offense struggled to find its rhythm, the defense flexed its muscles, forcing three turnovers and limiting the Grizzlies to 147 total yards in the 32-5 victory – STHS’s first playoff win since 1991.
“We knew coming in that we had better personnel than them, so we may have been looking ahead,” said Vikings coach Tim Jaureguito. “I’m not going to make excuses, because I don’t believe in excuses. But you’re going into a week where you’re going to play a team that you know is not as good as you are.
“But to look ahead and score 32 points and to win 32-5 you’re doing something right.”
South Tahoe, 8-2, advanced to the semifinals to meet prezone playoff favorite McQueen (10-0), which thumped Carson 49-7 Friday in Reno. McQueen plays host to South Tahoe at 7 p.m. Friday in Reno.
Sean Kezer and Justin Nixon each recovered fumbles and Wayne Lucero picked off a pass at his 1 as the Vikings defense kept the Grizzlies out of the end zone. The defense also scored two safeties, one coming on a blocked punt and the other when punter Doug Gasca kicked the ball out of his end zone following a high snap.
“We killed ourselves on penalties and we just didn’t play well offensively. The defense started slow, too, but they came on strong and had an exceptional second half,” Jaureguito said.
Galena started like a team playing its first postseason game in school history. Junior running back Luke Penrose fumbled on the second play from scrimmage and Kezer covered the loose pigskin at the Grizzlies 24.
After a holding penalty nullified a 24-yard touchdown run by Jake Hurwitz, the Vikings settled for a field goal attempt. But Carlos Romero’s 45-yard try missed wide left.
Then Galena’s playoff exuberance kicked in. Starting at their 20, the Grizzlies devoured 64 yards to the Viking 16 and scored first on Mike Sharenbrock’s 35-yard field goal.
“To get that first stop, to hold them to a missed field goal and for us to actually drive down and kick a field goal that was real positive for us,” said Galena coach Greg Sakelaris.
The unexpected 3-0 deficit was just what the Vikings needed offensively. Even though the Grizzlies were holding Hurwitz to little or no gain with their 5-2 run-stopping formation, senior quarterback Jarred Uppendahl and senior receiver Ryan Hickey got the Vikings moving. The pair combined for 14- and 33-yard gains as the Vikings advanced to the Galena 23. From there, Immanuel Williams surprised the Grizzlies by taking a reverse and picking his way into the end zone.
“People probably won’t admit it, but I think we kind of overlooked them because they were 3-6 and we were 7-2,” said Vikings outside linebacker Chas Tanner. “They did step up and play tough, but we just didn’t play our game with no mistakes.”
Galena stopped the Vikings on their next possession, but Uppendahl and Hickey were at it again early in the second quarter as Hickey got behind the Grizzlies secondary for a 46-yard reception to the 6. Hurwitz, who didn’t have a yard after the first quarter, swept outside for the 6-yard score and Romero tacked on the extra point for a 14-3 lead.
Hurwitz, however, took over late in the second quarter, breaking through the numerous tacklers who stood in his way. During a 65-yard scoring drive, Hurwitz broke off runs of 12, 8, 12 and 32. Hickey took the scoring honors, getting his feet down in the back of the end zone on a 5-yard TD pass from Uppendahl.
“Defensively we did an outstanding job, but just gave up the big plays in the first half that really hurt us,” Sakelaris said.
The Vikings got the ball back one more time before intermission on Wayne Lucero’s interception at the 1. But Uppendahl was called for intentional grounding, giving Galena two points and sending the teams into the break with STHS ahead 21-5.
Two Viking safeties and 32-yard scoring pass from Uppendahl to Williams completed the scoring in the second half.
Hurwitz, the league rushing champion, fought for 119 yards on 22 carries. Uppendahl completed four of his first eight passes, but finished 7 of 24 for 152 yards.
“Jared was just off,” Jaureguito said. “He’s played 10 games and had two off days, that’s not too bad. When you run this offense, people that play defense bank on the quarterback having bad days. We’ll he’s had a bad day and we still scored 32 points. I’d like to have a bad day and still be that successful.”
The Vikings haven’t beaten McQueen since the 1991 playoffs, and they’re looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead of them this week.
“This will be a lot of fun,” Jaureguito said. “I’ve seen them on film but I haven’t seen them play, so I can’t give you an honest estimation one way or another. I just know we have to be on the top of our game and execute offense, defense and on special teams because they are very disciplined.”
Added Tanner, “We’re really excited. We seniors have never played McQueen, and we want to know what all the hype is about. And if there’s any team to beat McQueen, it’s our team. We’ll have to play a lot better, work out the kinks this week and play at our peak and as one Friday night.”
SATURDAY’S PLAYOFF SUMS
STHS 32, GALENA 5
GALENA 3 2 0 0 – 5
SOUTH TAHOE 7 14 2 9 – 32
G – Sharenbrock 35 field goal, 6:23
ST – Williams 23 run (Romero kick), 9:42
ST – Hurwitz 6 run (Romero kick), 3:14
ST – Hickey 5 pass from Uppendahl (Romero kick), 8:26
G – Safety: Uppendahl called for ground in end zone, 11:29
ST – Safety: Gasca’s punt blocked out of end zone
ST – Safety: Gasca kicked ball out of own end zone, 1:25
ST – Williams 32 pass from Uppendahl (Romero kick), 2:42
First Downs 8/14
Passing yards 57/168
Punts -average 7-26.7/5-44.5
Punt returns 1-6/1-0-0
Kick returns 4-86/4-59
PASSING – Galena, Cartinella 9-19-1-57. South Tahoe, Uppendahl 7-24-0-152, Romero 4-5-0-16.
RUSHING – Galena, Penrose 24-68, Cartinella 6-13, Devencenzi 1-4, Fry 1-3, Hendrix 2-2. South Tahoe, Hurwitz 22-119, McIntyre 4-25, Williams 1-23, Tanner 3-5, Seeley 1-(-1), Romero 1-(-3).
RECEIVING – Galena, Penrose 4-17, Devencenzi 3-15, Ghisletta 1-18, Faircloth 1-7. South Tahoe, Hickey 3-84, VanArnum 2-4, Williams 1-32, Seeley 1-15, Tinlin 1-14, Ogami 1-8, Hurwitz 1-7, Mora 1-4.
Missed Field Goals: Romero, ST, 45 yards.
If Uppy can get rid of the bal in 1.5 seconds I think they’ll be in really good shape.
“To get that first stop, to hold them to a missed field goal and for us to actually drive down and kick a field goal that was real postive for us,” Sakelaris said.
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