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Dan Hinxman: Lovelock epitomizes beauty of small-town football


1:00 AM, Oct. 06, 2012 EDT
LOVELOCK — 

Here, where the favorite way to watch a high school football game is to back up a pickup truck to the chain-link fence and where homecoming is celebrated with a fireworks display, Friday nights matter.

"It's really slow," said Christina McIntee, person in charge at the downtown Safeway, about a half hour before kickoff of the Yerington-Pershing County game.

McIntee wasn't referring just to this Friday night. When the Mustangs play at home, the city doesn't shut down. But it definitely migrates to the north part of town where they root on their two-time Division III defending state champions at an Americana field that was refurbished prior to this season. Gone are the 56-year-old railroad-tie bleachers, replaced with aluminum and about 100 seat-back chairs.

And a third state crown looks like a strong possibility.

The Lions came into this game with a 6-0 record and the top spot in the RGJ's Div. III North Power Rankings. They had outscored their opponents 275-35.

The Mustangs didn't need to remind them that the Div. III state title goes through Lovelock. They did so through their deeds as Jacob Flores led a dominating rushing effort in a 28-0 victory.

"We just played hard, played all four quarters," said Flores, who had 211 of the Mustangs' 384 rushing yards (on 59 carries).

Asked if Pershing County should move up to No. 1, he added, "Hopefully. I think we earned it."

Pershing County opened the season with a 21-14 loss to Portola, Calif., but since has won five straight by a combined score of 250-6.

And as impressive as the offense was -- the 5-foot-7, 150-pound Flores was Mr. Outside and 5-8, 180-pound Jared Jensen was Mr. Inside (23 carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns) -- it was the Pershing County defense that dominated the game, holding Yerington to 84 total yards and five first downs.

And it was the defense that sent an early message. Lions quarterback Jeremy Foli dropped back to pass on Yerington's first offensive play, already down 8-0, and got blasted by defensive end Randolph McLean, son of coach Dave McLean. The 9-yard loss sent Foli to the sidelines for the rest of the series, and though he showed great resolve in returning, the Lions never recovered.

It couldn't have gone much better for the Mustangs, as they celebrated homecoming with a dominating win over their chief rival.

Maybe the price of those parking spots in front of the chain-link fences will go up.

It was principal and athletic director Russell Fecht, a Lovelock native, who thought it might be worthy to auction off the spots.

"My spot cost me $450, and I don't even have the best spot," Fecht said after the game. "People ask me all the time how we're so successful. We're a community. How many cities have you been to where you see all the cars at the game?"

Dan Hinxman's column appears Wednesdays, Sundays and periodically. Contact him via email at dhinxman@rgj.com or on Twitter: @danhinxmanRGJ.

 

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