Friday, September 28, 2007

Bulldogs face key contest against Single-Wing Rival

Bulldogs face key contest against rivals Saturday

September 28, 2007

By Keith Trout

The Smith Valley Bulldogs football team was hoping to see a fast start followed by a slow second half (as in an earlier loss) not repeat itself this season but unfortunately it returned in last Saturday's 30-12 loss to a tough Owyhee team.

The Bulldogs (1-3) led 12-8 at halftime but couldn't score again while the visiting Braves (who improved to 3-0) began taking advantage of the SV defense, scoring four touchdowns.

And Smith Valley definitely doesn't want to see a repeat this Saturday as they host neighboring Coleville (1 p.m.) in the Western 1A conference opener on Norman Brown Field.

In the earlier meeting against Coleville to open the season (nonconference game), Smith Valley exploded for 26 second quarter points to lead 34-14 at halftime but then wilted some in the second half and ended up losing 56-40.

SVHS coach Joe Acciari said he is calling this game the biggest game of the season for his club, since it is against rival Coleville, it could go a long ways towards determining playoff teams and they want to amend for the earlier loss.

Since they've already played each other they know one another, the coach said, but added they've both likely improved.

SV wants to run the ball and keep ball control to keep the ball out of the hands of the Wolves' talented single-wing tailback Jason Peters, a running and passing threat.

"It's the biggest game of the year, we'll find out who we are," Acciari said.

The team lost one more player, as freshman end-defensive back Jordan Fletcher broke his hand. Senior end Guy Stearns will miss another game after suffering a concussion but his brother Frank, a center, was cleared to return to workouts this week and may play on Saturday.

In addition, the team received a new foreign exchange student who had played in Tennessee. Acciari said the player, who should be cleared to play Saturday, had played offensive end but since he's a good athlete he also hopes he can help out on defense, as the team lost a defensive starter this week to academic ineligibility.

Against Owyhee, the SV defense played well in the first half, holding the Braves to only the one touchdown (plus a safety as quarterback Diego Verdugo was sacked in the end zone).

Meanwhile, SV got a five-yard run for a score from fullback Chris Hardy while Verdugo returned an interception about 50 yards for the other score.

Owyhee, though, took the second-half kickoff and drove for a score and it seemed to take something out of the Bulldogs.

Acciari said his team didn't give up but seemed to lack energy in the second half. "Once they scored things went downhill."

Meanwhile, on offensive the SV line struggled, with Verdugo often not having much time on running attempts, suffering some big losses. He said the defensive ends set up wide and were very quick, shutting down Verdugo's bootleg rollout plays. Verdugo also wasn't 100 percent after an ankle injury the week before.

Besides sacks, Owyhee also intercepted three passes.

On defense, Owyhee began running away from senior defensive end Spencer McLaughlin (who usually plays the wide side), especially with outside runs. SV caught on to this and the defensive ends delayed taking a side until once Owyhee came to the line, but the Braves quarterback then would call an audible and run to the side away from the big senior.

Acciari said McLaughlin is very smart and does a great job with containment while also penetrating, as he blocked one pass and a punt.

The coach said Owyhee, which kept the ball on the ground, didn't have many big runs but was able to gain at least 3-4 yards on every try and SV couldn't stop their second half drives.

On defense, linebackers Hardy and Tony Castaneda had big games, as they had 22 and 17 total tackles apiece.


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