SPRING CREEKK – In the past two weeks, the Spring Creek football team has created some good news, but the Spartans received a terrible update following their 41-12 victory over South Tahoe.
A positive for the Spartans (2-1) is that they will face winless Dayton (0-4 overall, 0-3 in league), but Spring Creek will be without junior Ethan Lulay for the remainder of the season due to a neck injury suffered in the win over the Vikings.
“It’s tough, he’s a great kid and one of our best football players. He dropped a punt last week and bent down to pick it up and the kid hit him while he was looking down,” said Spring Creek coach Mike Tournahu. “He’s been playing as well as anyone, and he plays so many positions for us: safety, running back, kicker and long snapper. He’s in a brace but he won’t need surgery. He’s in good spirits, but I know he wants to be out there and we’d love to have him. They’re just going to let it heal naturally. We got lucky; it could have been worse.”
Lulay ranks second on the team with 184 rushing yards on 14 carries with a touchdown, scoring last week on the ground in the second quarter against South Tahoe.
He is also second defensively with 21 tackles, tying for the team high with one fumble recovery.
Kicking the football, three of his 14 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks – making each of his two field goals and adding 7-for-8 PATs.
“We are working out a couple kids at kicker and long snapper. We’re going to plan on kicking extra points against Dayton and see how that goes,” Tournahu said.
He expects senior Brock Gilligan to assume Lulay’s role at free safety.
The Dust Devils have not won a league contest since 2014, a season in which Dayton went 4-5 in the Division 3A North.
In the past three years and three games of 2018, the Dust Devils have gone 0-30.
They opened the league season with a 50-14 home loss to North Valleys, were blanked 46-0 in Elko and most recently took a 41-15 L on the road at Sparks.
“Dayton was only down 14-7 at halftime against Sparks and had the ball at the 10-yard line with a chance to tie or take the lead, but they had a big penalty and didn’t score,” Tournahu said.
The Dust Devils have changed their quarterback for the third time, senior Justin Schmidt taking the snaps last week against the Railroaders.
He completed 5-for-19 passes for 61 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, rushing 12 times for 51 yards.
Junior running back David Leach leads the rushing attack with 252 yards on 65 touches, scoring one touchdown.
Sophomore Sunny Rojas leads Dayton with eight catches and 87 receiving yards, but he played quarterback in parts or all of three games.
Senior Joshua Pasasouk (six catches, 53 yards) and junior Seth Anderson (four catches, 44 yards) have each caught one of the team’s two total receiving TDs.
Sophomore Caleb Sumsion has proven to be a dual threat for Dayton, rushing for 118 yards on 27 carries and catching seven balls for 84 yards.
“Dayton runs from a lot of two-back sets and uses power more than they did against Elko,” Tournahu said.
Spring Creek running back Reed Westwood, who also plays both ways at middle linebacker, will undoubtedly see a larger workload in the backfield due to Lulay’s injury.
However, he may not have to play quite as many defensive snaps thanks to the emergence of senior Cameron Grant, who saw ample time against South Tahoe due to a toe injury to Westwood – who is “OK” according to Tournahu.
“Cameron played at inside backer for Westwood. He had eight tackles (team high) and deflected a couple passes,” Tournahu said. “He’s a quiet kid who works hard, and he played very well. The plan is to not play Westwood as much on defense.”
Westwood tops Spring Creek’s roster with 53 carries and 246 rushing yards, ranking second on the team with three rushing touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Jeff Guthrie has pounded home a team-best four scores with his legs, rushing 25 times for 125 yards.
Junior receiver Kyle Owsley has snagged a team-high six catches and leads the Spartans with 150 receiving yards, tying junior Dane Kelly for the team best with one TD catch.
The Spartans are one of three teams with 2-1 records in league play, hoping to take another step toward 3-1 on the road at 7 p.m. Friday, in Dayton.