Solon coach Kevin Miller. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – There is no questioning the rivalry status of Solon’s first two opponents.
Solon opened the season going 1-1 in back-to-back games with long-time rivals Mount Vernon and Regina.
The question is if Solon (2-1) faces another rivalry contest when faces Class 3A fourth-ranked Washington (3-0) on Friday night at Case Field.
If you ask Solon coach Kevin Miller that is exactly what awaits the Spartans on Friday.
“It’s becoming a rivalry type of a game there is no question about it,” Miller said. “I think our guys know that this is a quality team, a quality program and they have been very good the last three or four years so it definitely has that feel of a rivalry game.”
All the elements of a rivalry exist.
There is proximity with the two schools separated by less than 60 miles.
There is familiarity with four meetings in the past three seasons.
Most importantly there is competitiveness with the teams splitting the last four meetings, all of which were decided by two touchdowns or less.
Throw in the added incentive that Friday’s winner takes the driver’s season in the Class 3A, District 5 race you have the makings of another great game in a budding rivalry
“We’ve had a lot of great games with them and they are a great team,” Solon junior lineman Tyler Linderbaum said. “This is a game I look forward to and I think a lot of us look forward to especially being district play. It’s a big game and two good teams going at it.”
After meeting in the 2013 semifinals (a 14-9 Washington win) and the 2014 regular season (28-17 Solon) the rivalry heated up last year when the teams split a pair of games.
Washington won 28-14 in the regular season and Solon got revenge with a 17-14 overtime win in the opening round of the 3A playoffs.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Solon senior Jacob Coons said. “After last year they are going to want to play us and we want to play them because they are a great football team.”
While Solon was being tested early with back-to-back games against Mount Vernon and 1A top-ranked Regina the Demons have cruised to 3-0.
Washington has outscored its opponents 138-26 in three wins and is averaging 534 total yards per game.
“We know that we are playing an outstanding football team, they know that they have playmakers and they are tough and they are physical but with that being said we feel like our non-district schedule prepared us well for district play,” Miller said. “We’ve seen two very good football teams and we understand the physical demands that Washington is going to bring on Friday night and hopefully we’ve been able to replicate that and I’m hopeful that is going to pay dividends come Friday night.”
Any discussion of Washington starts with junior quarterback Ryan Reighard.
The 6-0, 200-pound Reighard is one of the most dynamic dual threat playmakers in the state.
Reighard has completed 81 percent of his passes for 610 yards and eight touchdowns this season but is most dangerous with his legs.
He has rushed for 571 yards and six touchdowns and is averaging better than 12 yards per carry.
“He’s a running back that can throw,” Coons said. “He’s a great quarterback. He reads the defense very well and he’s really explosive.”
Solon had varying degrees of success in two tries at defending Reighard last season.
Reighard ran for 231 yards and three touchdowns and had 318 totals yards in the Demons’ 28-14 regular season win.
In Solon’s playoff win the Spartans held Reighard to 126 yards on 32 carries.
“It’s going to be hard because he’s a great football player,” Coons said of slowing Reighard. “He is a power runner we are just going to have to play our game. We are just going to have to read our keys and do our job.”