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Previewing Damonte Ranch and Bishop Manogue's Northern 4A title game

DAMONTE MANOGUE PIC.PNG
Previewing Damonte Ranch and Bishop Manogue's Northern 4A title game

Damonte Ranch and Bishop Manogue play for the Northern 4A Region football championship Monday. Here is a preview of the game.

No. 1 Damonte Ranch vs. No. 2 Bishop Manogue

Where: Reno High

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Records: Damonte Ranch 11-1; Bishop Manogue 8-3

Game nickname: The Battle of the Whooping Coughs (both schools have had issues with whooping cough this year); this game was moved from Saturday to Monday because of a whooping cough outbreak at Damonte Ranch two weeks ago

Previous matchup: Damonte Ranch won, 27-10, although Bishop Manogue was without its starting quarterback, Drew Scolari, due to a head injury.

Last year's title game: Damonte Ranch and Bishop Manogue played in last year's Northern 4A Regional title game, and it might have been the best championship game in the North's history. Bishop Manogue won, 49-48, in overtime when Drew Scolari connected with Peyton Dixon on a 2-point conversion for a walk-off winner. Dixon rushed for 333 yards and four touchdowns. Bishop Manogue won its state semifinal game before losing to Bishop Gorman in the state championship.

Damonte Ranch standouts: RB Ashton Hayes (2,356 yards, 9.2 ypc, 32 TDs); WR Nick Vargas (45 receptions, 912 yards, 11 TDs); QB/SS Ethan Kulpin (1,921 passing yards, 16 TDs, six INTs; 86 tackles and four INTs on defense); LB Christian Jamison (149 tackles, 21 TFL, six sacks); LB Carson Smith (113 tackles, 12 TFL, six sacks)

Bishop Manogue standouts: QB Drew Scolari (1,792 passing yards, 22 TDs, five INTs); RB Zeke Lee (1,431 yards, 8.3 ypc, 18 TDs); OL Joey Wright (USC commit); WR Cort Ballinger (26 receptions, 440 yards, 10 TDs); OL Sioape Vatakani (multiple Power 5 offers); LB Vai Kaho (44 tackles, 14 TFL, three sacks; Nevada commit); LB Malcolm McClure (57 tackles, eight sacks)

Damonte Ranch in a nut shell: Damonte Ranch is the North's highest-ranked team in the MaxPreps standings, so it is a modest favorite heading into this one. The Mustangs have won 11 straight games after opening the season with a loss to Granite Bay. Damonte Ranch likes to keep the ball on the ground, running it 63 percent of the time. The team rides Hayes, who is only a sophomore, but is averaging nearly 22 carries per game (plus two more catches). Kulpin is a steady quarterback who is the rare gunslinger who also is an impact defensive player. The Mustangs' defense has been elite, holding teams to 13.8 points per game. Against Nevada teams, that total has been 11.7 points per game. In the first game against Manogue, Damonte Ranch rushed for 346 yards (9.1 per carry) with Hayes totaling 298 yards and four touchdowns. Coach Shawn Dupris is looking for his second North title. It is the third time in four seasons Dupris and Manogue coach Ernie Howren have faced off for a Regional title.

Bishop Manogue in a nut shell: The Miners have an excellent line with two future Power 5 players. They love to run the ball. Manogue keeps the ball on the ground nearly 62 percent of its plays and is averaging 8.1 yards per carry. Scolari, a junior, is a veteran having led his team to a regional title and a state championship appearance last year. Manogue has won six straight games and knocked off Spanish Springs, the top seed in the High Desert League, in the regional semifinal. Manogue's coaching staff, led by Howren, is used to winning regional titles. Howren won seven regional titles at Reed High and has one in two full seasons at Manogue. His teams know how to play their best ball when it matters the most. Manogue is peaking after some early-season struggles that included canceling a game with food poisoning and moving two more back because of whooping cough, plus a scourge of injuries.

The winner gets: The winner of the North plays the winner of Southern Nevada's Desert Region, Liberty, in a state semifinal game Saturday at 1:10 p.m. at McQueen High School. Liberty shocked Bishop Gorman in overtime of their regional title game last Friday. The Gaels had won 10 straight Nevada 4A state titles and hadn't lost to a team from the Silver State in a decade. While Liberty is a strong team, the absence of Bishop Gorman gives hope to the rest of the teams in Nevada in the 4A state title chase.

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