Reno's best player doesn't even touch the ball that much. Josh Barrett rarely is seen in the backfield and lines up out wide only occasionally. But he still makes big plays. Whenever. Wherever.
But when Reno and McQueen meet tonight at 7 in the Northern 4A championship game at Foster Field, Barrett's going to have to touch the ball more than usual if the Huskies are to make a game out of this.
And Lancer coach Ken Dalton knows it.
"Any time you have a player like that, you have to get him a lot of touches and we're expecting that," Dalton said of Barrett, who has 18 touchdowns this season and is being recruited by a number of division I programs. "I think they have some outstanding skill kids. They have great speed, great quickness. Their quarterback, Brady Dolan, will pose a number of problems, both running the ball and passing it."
Dolan passed for 160 yards and rushed for two touchdowns in Reno's 26-7 win last week over Elko. Oh yeah, and he hooked up with Barrett on a 39-yard TD pass. Barrett also returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown.
The win improved the Huskies' overall record to 11-0, making tonight's game against 11-0 McQueen the first zone title game in a decade between two undefeated teams. In 1992, Wooster and McQueen both finished the regular season undefeated when the largest classification in Nevada was 3A. The Lancers won that game and then went on to win their second state championship.
"I think it'll be great for the community," Dalton said of tonight's game. "It seems like every year someone steps up. Elko had a phenomenal team last year. We want to play the best team always. You really want to play everybody. Our goal is to be the state champion and I know we would be disappointed if we didn't."
If McQueen is to win its fifth state title, it might have to do so without injured running back Eddie Cortez, who rushed for 964 yards in the regular season. Cortez has missed the past three weeks but will dress tonight and could see some action, Dalton said.
But even without Cortez, who averages almost 15.0 yards per carry, the Lancers' offense hasn't sputtered in the playoffs. Chris Warner rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-7 win over Galena last week, putting the Lancers into the zone title game for the fourth consecutive season. And two weeks ago in a 49-0 win over Carson in the first round, Matt Marner and Joe Chrisman, who will likely share most of the carries against the Huskies, combined to rush for 160 yards and four TDs. In McQueen's two playoff games, quarterback Zach Borba has passed for 317 yards and five touchdowns, four of which have went for an average of 53 yards.
One more thing, the Lancers have outscored their opponents 560-22 this season, which works out to an average win of 51-2. Their closest game this season was a 33-0 win over the Grizzlies in the final game of the regular season. Sounds like another McQueen victory tonight. Then again, the Lancers haven't played Reno, which also doesn't have a blemish on its record, but hasn't been as dominant as the Lancers, either.
"The way they beat their opponents you got to put the attention on them," said Reno coach Dan Avansino, who was a member of McQueen's '92 state title team. "We seem to be confident but not over excited. You never really know the psyche of a teenager. But we've been taking a very business approach to this week. We want to be one big play away (in the fourth quarter) because we feel like we have some weapons."
And a big one in Barrett.