Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 | 9:12 p.m.
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Reno's McQueen High School
How they got here: Occasionally there are years where a group of teams are so close in talent, you could make a case for all of them to play for the Nevada State Championship. This is not one of those years.
As dominant as Palo Verde has been here in the south, their evil twin brother has been doing the same in the north. After cruising through an undefeated season where no team finished a game within two touchdowns, the Lancers haven't been challenged in the playoffs either. They followed a 56-16 win over Galena in the first round with a 55-7 beat down on Reed in the second. In the state-semifinal they knocked off an 11-1 Bishop Manogue team, 38-0.
The Lancers have beat their opponents by an average of 36.8 points per game. Out of the twelve teams they have faced, five have failed to score on them at all.
Players to watch:
1. Few players in Nevada run the ball as well as McQueen senior Tyler York. Like most dynamic players, he possesses the ability to take the ball to the end zone no matter where he starts from. He led Northern Nevada 4A football in rushing touchdowns with 22 during the regular season, averaging 8.38 yards per carry en route to a 1,199-yard effort. He's stayed hot in the playoffs, including a five-touchdown night against Reed in the second round. In addition to York, teammate Anthony Martinez scored 10 touchdowns during the regular season, keeping defenses from singling out York in the backfield.
2. Anthony Stolo has been the best surprise to McQueen's season. After seving as a backup his junior year, Stolo has had a tremendous year throwing the football. Playoffs included, Stolo has thrown for 1,698 yards and 23 touchdowns. His regular season quarterback-rating topped Northern Nevada at 183.72. But the best stat of them all? Stolo has thrown only two interceptions in 175 pass attempts this season.
3. Stolo wouldn't be Stolo without last year's all-state wideout, Kyle Van Noy. Out of the 23 touchdowns his quarterback has put in this season, Van Noy has been on the receiving end of 13 of them. The senior has three touchdowns in three playoff games and racked up 129 yards against Reed.
Strength: There are many, but one that stands out is experience. The Lancers have been here before - in several ways. The school is familiar with state titles, winning five since 1990. Many of the players themselves have been here before as well, as McQueen fell to Bishop Gorman in the state title game last year, 38-17. They are hungry, prepared and stacked enough to win it this year.
Weakness: It's nothing the Lancers can do anything about, but their schedule this year was pillowy-soft. Rolling through an undefeated season could be as much of a curse as it was a fun ride.
"We broke it down," said Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost. "Only five of the programs they beat had winning records. Then you look at our schedule and we feel we have been challenged because we've played some pretty good teams. But I'm also a believer that winning breeds winning, and when you have that confidence you're not gonna lose no matter what. They have that attitude. But I would think it would give us the edge in a close game because we've played in a close game."
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.