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Recapping a record-breaking Nevada prep football season

Cade McNamara
Damonte Ranch QB Cade McNamara was one of a handful of standout performers in Northern Nevada this season. (Handout)

It was a record-breaking high school football season in Northern Nevada, perhaps the best there ever was. One standout became the first 3,000-yard rusher in state history; another set Nevada records in career passing yards and passing touchdowns; the best Northern 4A Regional championship ever played was waged; and seven players with Northern Nevada ties will end up earning FBS scholarships. But things ended as they typically do, with Bishop Gorman winning the state crown. Here is a review of the the record-breaking 2018 campaign.

Gorman makes it 10 in a row

Bishop Gorman looked vulnerable early in the season, the perennial national power losing three of its first four games. But it was back to the good ole' Gaels thereafter as Gorman won its final 10 games, including the 4A state championship, to win its 10th straight large-class state title (each victory coming by at least 34 points). The latest version was a 69-26 victory over Bishop Manogue. The longest large-class state-title winning streak prior to Gorman's 10 in a row was five by Reno High from 1924-28 (there were probably four high schools in Nevada at the time). Gorman's dominance has been astounding, if not completely fair given its private-school advantages.

Peyton's push for 3,000

Bishop Manogue RB Peyton Dixon became the first player in Nevada history to rush for 3,000 yards in a season, surpassing the previous best by Spring Creek's James Edwards, who rushed for 2,993 yards in 2004 at the 3A level over 11 games. Dixon finished with 3,136 yards over 14 games (the fourth most in the nation) and scored 45 rushing touchdowns, tied for the second most in state history behind Antione White's 48 scores for Las Vegas in 2001. Dixon did a lot of damage against Southern teams, too. He had 298 yards against Arbor View, 196 against Desert Pines and 192 against Bishop Gorman, all Vegas-based teams. Dixon's 5,229 career rushing yards rank fifth in state history, first among Northern 4A players (and third among large-class players). His 74 rushing touchdowns are tied for third in state history. Dixon is expected to pick his college during December's early signing period. He has offers from Nevada, Fresno State and UNLV as well as some FCS schools.

McNamara hits the mark

Damonte Ranch QB Cade McNamara also put his name at the top of the record books. The Michigan-bound gun-slinger overcame three broken bones (he missed just one game) to throw for 2,995 yards and 39 touchdowns against six interceptions during his senior season. That pushed his totals to 12,084 career passing yards and 146 career passing touchdowns in his four-year starting tenure. Both are Nevada 11-man state records, surpassing the previous bests of 11,828 yards and 138 touchdowns, which were both held by Southern players. McNamara also led his team to an undefeated regular season before losing to Bishop Manogue in overtime in the Northern 4A Regional title game. He'll leave for Ann Arbor in January as he joins Michigan a semester early so he can get a head start on his college career.

An epic title game

The Nevada large-class state title game was a blowout -- it has been since Gorman's rise to dominance -- but the Northern 4A Regional title game was an epic back-and-forth battle that will be remembered as one of the best games in state history. Damonte Ranch came in undefeated, with a 63-28 win over Bishop Manogue earlier in the season, but it was the Miners who out-lasted the Mustangs, 49-48, in overtime on a 2-point conversion pass from Drew Scolari to Dixon. Damonte Ranch's hopes seemed dashed after McNamara was intercepted inside the 10-yard line with his team down six with less than 2 minutes to play. But two plays later, Damonte Ranch intercepted Scolari and returned it for a touchdown only to miss what would have been the game-winning extra point. After Damonte Ranch opened overtime with a touchdown, Manogue answered with the same before the 2-point winner. "That was exhausting at the end," said Manogue coach Ernie Howren, who won his eighth regional title and first with the Miners. "Just crazy. It was a crazy ending. It might take some time off my life, but I'm really proud of them. I've coached in a lot of games. I can't remember one this crazy."

Fallon goes undefeated

Fallon, which used to play in the large-class division, won its second state title since dropping to the 3A level. The Greenwave first won the 3A title in 2015, snapping a 37-year championship drought, and added a second 3A title last month. It was the eighth state championship for Fallon (two came in the 1920s, one in the 1960s, three in the 1970s and two in the 2010s). This championship has special distinction because the Greenwave went unbeaten. It culminated in a 28-7 win over Truckee in the title game. The Wolverines opened the game with a touchdown before Fallon scored 28 unanswered points to cap its season at 12-0. The Greenwave were dominant, scoring 566 points and allowing just 99 (it posted four shutouts). Fallon OL Ben Dooley also committed to Boise State over offers from Nevada, Cal, San Diego State, UNLV and Washington State.

Four on to the FBS

In addition to Dooley (Boise State) and McNamara (Michigan), McQueen RB JD Kolb, who is headed to Air Force, and Dixon, who has yet to pick his college destination, are going to FBS schools on scholarship. That's a good haul for Northern Nevada, although the number would have been higher if Daniyel Ngata, Joe Ngata, Kaiden Bennett and Chandon Pierre didn't move from Reno to Folsom, Calif. The Ngatas and Bennett moved prior to the start of their freshman seasons in hopes of boosting their college options. Joe Ngata, a wide receiver, is a top-50 recruit committed to Clemson; Daniyel Ngata, a four-star recruit as an athlete, is a top-150 recruit who is yet to pick a school. Bennett is a three-star quarterback committed to Boise State. Pierre, who was at Manogue until this season, has FCS offers. If you include Bennett and the Ngata brothers, Northern Nevada has seven seniors headed to FBS schools, including three top-150 recruits. Not too shabby.

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