The Northern 5A high school football season has been Blowout City in the first three weeks. The nine large-class teams have played each other 11 times this season with the average scoring margin being 28.1 points. In fact, only two of those 11 games have been decided by fewer than 20 points. Meanwhile, six of those 11 games have been decided by 35 points or more, including all four last week. That should change this week. The Northern 5A schedule was scrambled again due to positive COVID-19 tests, but there are some expected close battles on tap, including Bishop Manogue at Damonte Ranch; McQueen at Reed; and Reno at Douglas on Friday night. Carson also plays at Spanish Springs on Saturday. Here are our week four power rankings of Northern 5A teams.
High school power rankings
1. Bishop Manogue (3-0, last week 1): The Miners shut out Carson last week, posting a 42-0 victory. QB Drew Scolari posted an efficient 14-of-20 for 189 yards and three touchdowns while RB Michael Schneider rushing for 124 yards and two scores. Freshman Salesi Manu, the son of former Nevada lineman Charles Manu, also picked up a sack. Manogue has out-scored its three opponents 115-31, but gets its toughest test of the season at Damonte Ranch as the state's top two teams clash. The Miners are 2-3 against the Mustangs since hiring coach Ernie Howren, with all three loses in the regular season and both wins in the playoffs. This should be a great matchup.
2. Damonte Ranch (3-0, 2): Damonte Ranch has been equally as dominant as Bishop Manogue this season, out-scoring opponents 112-30, a plus-82 margin (the Miners have a plus-84 margin). And they've played roughly the same strength of schedule, so this should be a great game, and the Mustangs have the home-field advantage. This really should be the regional championship game, or 1 vs. 1 bowl game, that's scheduled for April 10. But since both play out of the Sierra League, this regular-season matchup very well could determine the Northern 5A champ. In a 42-6 win over Douglas last week, QB Ethan Kulpin accounted for 293 yards and four touchdowns. He also had seven tackles.
3. Reed (1-1, 3): Reed's game with Wooster last week was canceled due to COVID issues inside the Colts program, so it's coming off a bye heading into a clash with unbeaten McQueen. The Raiders lost a six-point game to Damonte Ranch in one of the region's few close games before blowing out Carson. QB Armaan Bajwa leads a balanced offense that can be potent on the ground or in the air. Star RB Elijah Tau-Tolliver, a Sac State signee, is expected to play after missing the team's last game. That's a big boost for Reed.
4. McQueen (3-0, 4): The Lancers are one of three perfect teams in the Northern 5A, and we'll learn a lot more about this team in this week's game. McQueen barely edged 3A North Valleys, romped over winless Galena and edged Spanish Springs on a last-minute touchdown after the Cougars turned the ball over six times. This week's game at Reed will be the Lancers' toughest test of the season. A win could put McQueen in the same class as Bishop Manogue and Damonte Ranch, which at this stage appear a cut above everybody else.
5. Spanish Springs (1-2, 7): After two tough losses to start the season, one against Bishop Manogue and the other being a self-inflicted defeat to McQueen (six turnovers), Spanish Springs did everything right in its 48-7 victory over Reno. QB Tristan Szabo got back on track by completing 15-of-17 passes for 214 yards and four touchdowns. The Cougars have largely run the ball well this season, averaging 186 yards per game on the ground, so getting Szabo going through the air is big. Spanish Springs was scheduled to play Hug this week but that game was canceled. It will now host Carson on Saturday.
6. Douglas (1-2, 5): After a lopsided win over Galena to open the season, Douglas has dropped back-to-back games against Manogue and Damonte Ranch, the two best teams in the region. The Tigers had just one day of practice to prepare for the Mustangs after a positive COVID-19 test. Douglas gets a much more even battle this week at Reno, which is coming off a 48-7 loss to Spanish Springs. The ground game led by RBs Trevor Kruger and Christopher Smalley will be big against the Huskies because Douglas is limited throwing the ball.
7. Reno (1-1, 6): After a season-opening 49-12 win over 3A Sparks, the Huskies lost by 41 points against Spanish Springs in its first game against a 5A foe. Reno turned the ball over four times in that defeat, so it must do better with the turnover margin against Douglas as both teams are roughly the same caliber.
8. Carson (0-2, 8): Carson dropped a 42-0 decision to Bishop Manogue last week and has been out-scored 85-7. It's been out-gained 417-109 per game in its two losses, one of which included a 43-7 defeat to Reed. The Senators were scheduled to face a like-quality team this week with its game against Galena, but that was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 case within the Grizzlies' program. The Senators will instead play at Spanish Springs on Saturday in what will offer a much more difficult opponent.
9. Galena (0-3, 9): Galena's game with Carson was canceled due to a COVID-19 positive. The Grizzlies are still looking for their first points of the season after a 26-0 loss to Douglas, a 40-0 loss to Damonte Ranch and a 35-0 loss to McQueen. Galena has compiled 158 yards of offense in its first three games. The Grizzlies will look to return to action in Week 5 against Bishop Manogue.
Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMurray.