Each week, Winnemucca Publishing Sports Editor Tony Erquiaga ranks the Northern 3A football teams.
1. Fernley. Despite a couple close calls with Fallon and Truckee, Fernley was the dominant team in the Northern 3A this season. In the past couple of years, the Vaqueros found ways to lose games. This year, Fernley turned it around and won the close games. Fernley will host either South Tahoe or Truckee next week. That won’t be an easy game to win.
2. Spring Creek. The defending 3A state runner-up from a season ago ran into some troubles midway through the season.
Spring Creek lost back-to-back games to Fernley and Truckee. The Spartans were one of three teams to finish 7-2 in the Northern 3A. Spring Creek gets a bye this week and will play either Fallon or Sparks next week. The last time Spring Creek played Fallon, they led 35-7 in the first half.
3. Fallon. Fallon is the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and beat Truckee earlier in the season. That win got the Greenwave this spot. Not sure how good Fallon will be in the playoffs. Lowry gave the Greenwave everything they could handle in the regular season finale. Fallon likely gets through Sparks this week, but going to Spring Creek is another story in itself.
4. Truckee. Truckee was just a few seconds from being the league champion, but also one play from losing to South Tahoe last week. The two California squads get to play again Saturday in Truckee. If the playoff game is anything like the regular season finale, it should be a fun day in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Don’t sleep on South Tahoe in this one.
5. South Tahoe. The Vikings have been like a yo-yo this season. At 5-4, some think they may have underachieved. South Tahoe was hit with the injury bug early in the season and struggled. The Vikings could easily be 7-2 or 8-1. South Tahoe proved they belong as one of the better teams in the league after its performance in Truckee.
6. Sparks. The Railroaders are the darlings of the league in 2017. Sparks reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009. It wasn’t easy though. Sparks needed a late touchdown and 2-point conversion and a blocked field goal to beat rival Wooster. Can the Cinderella season continue with a shocker in Fallon?
7. Lowry. I know Lowry won just one game this year. However, the Buckaroos made big strides in the second half of the season. Lowry by far has had the most brutal schedule to start with Spring Creek, Fernley and Truckee. Lowry should have beaten Wooster, Elko, Sparks and Fallon. The future is bright despite a 1-9 record.
8. Elko. The Indians never got off the ground this year. The downward trend began with a loss at Sparks where Elko did not score an offensive touchdown. Elko’s wins were over Dayton, Wooster and Lowry. The win over the Buckaroos was in the final minutes. It may be a rebuilding period for Elko.
9. Wooster. The final season for Wooster in the Northern 3A was not kind to the Colts. Wooster could have left on a high note with a win over rival Sparks, but had a field goal blocked to win the game in the closing seconds. Here is hoping Wooster can rebuild its program in the first couple years its back in the 4A.
10. Dayton. Hopes were high when Dayton won its first game of the season over Lincoln County. That was the high point as the Dust Devils lost all nine Northern 3A games by a total of 436-49. Not sure what the answer for Dayton is. The school wants to drop to the 2A, but those schools want nothing of the Dust Devils.