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Football: Receiving corps depth key as Reed will try to keep pace with Gorman

12:00 AM, Nov. 23, 2012 EST

Reed's Brett Chaney makes a diving catch in the end zone during Reed's 50-9 win over Damonte Ranch in the Division I North championship at Mackay Stadium on Nov. 16. / Julie Dawes/Special to the RGJ

Reed was without the best wide receiver in the state last week, and it didn't show one bit.

As Devin Gray watched from the sideline, the Raiders amassed 333 yards through the air, 70 more than their season average, and 50 points through three quarters in the Division I North championship football game.

Teammates and coach Ernie Howren all said they missed Gray, whose 93 catches and 1,329 yards are tops in Nevada. However, his absence didn't affect the stat sheet.

Depth among the receiving corps to overcome such an injury -- a broken collarbone that will keep Gray out of Saturday's state semifinal game against three-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman -- is rare at the high school level.

"It's just about doing our job and completing our assignments so we're able to be successful," said senior Marty Hargrove, one of four Reed receivers with more than 20 receptions this year.

Playing in Gray's position, Brett Chaney had 138 yards and three touchdowns against Damonte Ranch in the Div. I North championship. Casey Higgins made his first career start as a receiver after playing defense the previous three-plus seasons. He had seven catches for 97 yards. Trae Wells added five receptions, and Hargrove had two and a touchdown.

"It was a lot more tiring from playing slot receiver," Chaney said of filling Gray's place. "And it was cool to catch longer passes."

Chaney's output put him past 1,000 yards for the season. It is the first time Howren has had two 1,000-yard receivers in one season.

"You're never going to step into Devin's shoes," Howren said. "But I think Brett did it as well as anyone could. And then to have Casey Higgins get his first start as a receiver and do what he did, seven receptions for 90-plus yards, I think that speaks to his character as a senior to do whatever it takes to help us win a game."

The Raiders (10-3) will need very similar performances from their wideouts on Saturday if they are to upset Gorman (11-1).

"We have to not play scared because there is a lot of hype with how good they are," said Higgins, who overcame a fumble on his first catch last week. "We can't be scared, just stick to our concepts and do what we do and we'll be fine out there."

Gorman does not have the size it had in recent years, but the Gaels still are very stingy against the run. And Reed's nearly 400 pass attempts were the most in the state. If the Raiders are going to keep pace, they're going to have to do it through the air.

"We need to get off press coverage because they like to press a lot, and run good routes," Chaney said. "We ran a couple good routes last year and scored on them. We need to do that again and more often this year."

This is the second straight year and third in the past four Reed has four players with more than 20 catches. The Raiders could have six players eclipse that plateau before the season ends.

"When you start playing a defense as talented and physically gifted as Gorman's, you have to be able to spread the ball around and have four or five receivers who can get themselves open," Howren said. "Having the guys we do this year, it allows you to spread it around. You don't feel like you have to rely on one guy to do everything."




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