Northern Nevada prep football rivalry week is here, and this year's rivalry games will carry extra intrigue. They will help determine the bowl game matchups in this shortened season. Damonte Ranch has clinched the No. 1 seed out of the Sierra League and could face any one of three teams — McQueen, Reed or Spanish Springs — from the High Desert League in the regional championship game. Among 5A games this week, McQueen plays at Reno, Reed at Spanish Springs and Douglas at Carson. Here are our week five power rankings of Northern 5A teams.
High school power rankings
1. Damonte Ranch (4-0, last week 2): Damonte Ranch smashed Bishop Manogue, 61-42, to sew up the Sierra League's spot in the regional championship game. Ethan Kulpin completed 11-of-16 passes for 129 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 76 yards and two more scores. Kulpin, who also had 17 tackles, is the odds-on favorite to win regional player of the year honors after that performance. Carson Smith also rumbled for 179 yards and a touchdown while adding 12 tackles on defense. Nick Vargas picked off Drew Scolari three times as Damonte Ranch won the regular season's biggest game. The Mustangs, who have now beaten the No. 2 and 3 teams in this week's rankings, have a bye Friday before bowl week.
2. Reed (2-1, 3): Like Damonte Ranch, Reed went on a scoring binge to score an upset victory. The Raiders knocked off previously unbeaten McQueen, 62-30. Reed threw the ball only seven times en route to 60-plus points. The Raiders averaged 11.7 yards per carry (32 attempts for 374 yards) and scored seven times on the ground. Sac State-bound Elijah Tau-Tolliver rushed 19 times for 200 yards and four touchdowns. Reed's only loss this season came in a close game in the season opener against Damonte Ranch. If the Raiders beat rival Spanish Springs on Friday, Reed will set up a rematch against the Mustangs in next week's regional championship game.
3. Bishop Manogue (3-1, 1): The Miners run of back-to-back large-class Northern championships will end this season after its 61-42 loss to Damonte Ranch last week. Instead, Manogue will play in the No. 2 vs. No. 2 bowl game. QB Drew Scolari accounted for all six of the Miners' touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) in the defeat, although he was intercepted three times. But it was the Manogue defense that faltered last week, allowing 281 rushing yards and 7.2 yards per carry. That run defense has struggled all season as the 659 rushing yards the Miners have allowed this season are the second most among large-class North teams. Manogue has a bye this week after Galena had to cancel the game due to internal COVID-19 issues.
4. McQueen (3-1, 4): It's not often a team racks up 616 yards of total offense but loses by 32 points, but that's what happened to the Lancers last week in its 62-30 defeat to Reed. Cody Ciglar completed 32-of-53 passes for 430 yards and four touchdowns while McQueen averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 37 rushing attempts (186 yards total). But it turned the ball over four times and had no answer for Reed's ground game. The Lancers now need a win and some help to get into the regional championship game. McQueen must beat Reno on the road Friday night and have Spanish Springs beat Reed, plus win the tiebreaker, to get the No. 1 seed in the High Desert League and the right to play Damonte Ranch in the title game.
5. Spanish Springs (2-2, 5): Spanish Springs picked up a late contest with Carson last week and scooted past the Senators, 35-7, in a Saturday matinee. The Cougars had a balanced offensive approach, passing for 166 yards and rushing for 208 more. Defensively, Spanish Springs had three interceptions en route to its second straight win. The Cougars could still earn the top seed in the High Desert League with a win over Reed and a McQueen loss to Reno. Spanish Springs has never played in a regional championship game, so that'd be a big accomplishment for the program, especially after the 0-2 start to the season.
6. Douglas (2-2, 6): Douglas evened its record after a 38-28 win over Reno. Trevor Kruger ran 28 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns and Christopher Smalley added two rushing scores. Kruger is second in the Northern 5A with 419 rushing yards and Smalley is first with six rushing touchdowns. It's been a powerful 1-2 rushing duo for the Tigers, who host rival Carson on Friday (full game preview here). Douglas is locked into the No. 3 seed in the Sierra League and will play one of McQueen, Reed or Spanish Springs on bowl week. But the first order of business is trying to beat Carson for the third straight season and fourth time in the last five years in the region's biggest rivalry.
7. Reno (1-2, 7): Reno dropped its second straight game, losing to Douglas, 38-28. After a strong first game against Sparks, Reno has struggled offensively. The Huskies are averaging just 227.7 yards per game, seventh out of nine Northern 5A teams. That includes only 103 rushing yards per game. Reno clearly misses last year's regional player of the year, Drue Worthen, who averaged 168.3 rushing yards per game by himself in 2019. Reno gets a chance to get back in the win column Friday when it hosts McQueen.
8. Carson (0-3, 8): The Senators dropped a 35-7 decision to Spanish Springs, a late scheduling change after its game with Galena was canceled due to COVID-19 issues in the Grizzlies' program. Carson looks for its first win of the year when it hosts rival Douglas. The Senators must button up their defense in that matchup. Carson is allowing a Northern 5A-high 411 yards per game, including 230 a night on the ground. Douglas' offensive strength is its running game, so don't be surprised if the Senators sell out to try and stop the run.
9. Galena (0-3, 9): Galena is taking its second straight week off due to COVID-19 issues. Its game against Carson last week was canceled as was its contest with Bishop Manogue this week. The Grizzlies plan to play Truckee, a 3A team that has been playing California schools this season, in next week's bowl matchups.
Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMurray.