Dakota Larson

Spring Creek wide receiver Dakota Larson picks up a 4th-and-5 conversion on Nov. 9 in the Division 3A state quarterfinal against Fallon, scoring on a 15-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Thomas Ledford. 

LAS VEGAS – Back to Sin City.

The Spring Creek football team faces a familiar proposition Saturday; looking for a way to defeat the Desert Pines Jaguars.

The Spartans and the Jaguars share recent history, facing off in the 2016 Division 3A state championship.

Spring Creek hung with Desert Pines in the first half, trailing 12-6 at the break.

The Jaguars’ talent and deep roster took its toll – Desert Pines scoring 27-unanswered points in the second half for a 39-6 victory and the state title at Bishop Gorman High School.

The season, the matchup will take place in the 3A state semifinal round at Desert Pines High School.

The Spartans enter the game with an 8-3 overall record, going 8-2 against opponents of the 3A North.

Spring Creek earned the No. 2 seed for the North postseason, defeating North No. 3 Fallon 35-21 last week after a first-round bye.

The Spartans lost their opening game of the season on Aug. 25 on the road against Star Valley (the No. 2 team in the state of Wyoming) in Afton, Spring Creek’s other two losses coming in succession at home on Oct. 6 against Fernley (32-22) and the following week at Truckee (26-14).

Since the losses, Spring Creek has ripped off three straight victories, two coming against Fallon (42-25, 35-21) and one in the regular-season finale at home against Elko (48-13).

The Jaguars are 8-2 on the season, but Desert Pines enters the semifinal on an eight-game winning streak.

Opening with a 9-0 loss at Bishop Diego in Santa Clara, California, and following with a 51-0 loss No. 3-ranked Division 4A program Arbor View – the Jags have dominated the 3A South competition.

In five regular-season victories in league play (5-0) and a blowout win last week in the state quarterfinal by a final score of 48-0 over Sunrise Mountain, Desert Pines has not faced a margin of victory closer than 28 points.

Spring Creek head coach Mike Tournahu may be in his first season at the helm for the Spartans, but he was with the team prior as the offensive and defensive lines coach – knowing full well the type of talent, size and depth the Jaguars present.

“They have quite a few new faces, more so on defense,” Tournahu said. “Their quarterback (junior Tyler Williamson) started against us last year in the state championship.”

Tournahu said the Jaguars run a lot of counter plays, adding Desert Pines “pulls their guard on almost every play.”

“They actually keep things pretty simple. From what I’ve seen, they really only run out of about four formations: double T, pro style with a two-back set, and 2x2 and 3x1 (receivers),” he said. “They just smack people in the face. Fallon has one (Sean) McCormick, Desert Pines has five.”

Getting off to a good start will be crucial for Spring Creek, which overcame a poor beginning to the game last week against Fallon – the Spartans scoring 28-unanswered points after falling behind 21-7 early in the third quarter.

Not a recipe for success; the Jaguars bury teams once they get them down.

“Hopefully, we can catch some breaks and get some early scores,” Tournahu said. “If we can get a lead, we’ll probably try to play ball control to keep it away from them.”

The Spartans will look to avenge a 2016 championship loss and pull off an upset against the No. 1 team in the state for a 2017 berth in the title game, facing the Jaguars at 1 p.m. Saturday in the 3A state semifinal at Desert Pines High School.

Listen to the game online at mixrl.com/kjag-radio/ or download the free Mixlr app.

In the other 3A state semifinal, South No. 2 Mojave will play on the road at 1 p.m. Saturday against North No. 1 Fernley.

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