Incline football: Highlanders lose game, QB vs. defending champs
Incline will host a league game against Pershing County (3-2 overall, 1-0 league) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Friday was a bad night for the Incline football team.
The Highlanders not only dropped their homecoming game and league opener, 42-8, against two-time defending state champion Yerington, they lost their starting quarterback and safety for the remainder of the season with a head injury.
In what Incline coach Scott Conn called “a tremendous, unnecessary cheap shot,” 6-foot-5-inch, 220-pound tight end Sam Hammond laid a blindside block to the head of Incline senior Kelsey Philpott, who was playing safety and trailing a touchdown play by 7 to 8 yards along the sideline late in the first quarter, according to Conn.
The head-to-head blow knocked Philpott unconscious for several seconds, Conn said. He was placed on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a Reno hospital, where he was diagnosed with a severe concussion. Hammond was ejected from the game, meaning he will also have to miss the Lions’ next contest against Golden Sierra.
“We’re lucky it was nothing worse,” said Conn, whose quarterback was 2-for-3 for 20 yards when he went down. “He was motionless. We had to go over there and unscrew his facemask and keep his head still. Luckily nothing was broken, like we feared.
“We’re not very happy about that kind of conduct. Obviously our kids were pretty upset too. We told them not to retaliate, and they didn’t. They played hard, but their hearts were hurting. They knew we lost Kelsey for the season.”
Incline junior Nick Barnard replaced Philpott at quarterback for the final three quarters, while Conn said the Highlanders are grooming senior receiver Tanner Quenneville to start at QB this week against Pershing County.
“It certainly has put a kink in our season going forward. But the kids are resilient. They might still surprise some people,” Conn said.
Playing in front of a large homecoming crowd, the Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and extended it to 21-0 by the half. The Highlanders got on the scoreboard in the third quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run by senior Owen Graffis, who led the Highlanders with 101 yards rushing on 15 carries. But Yerington scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and one in the fourth to pull away.
Incline senior Michael Guymon rushed for 56 yards on 10 carries, while Quenneville had six catches for 56 yards and 10 tackles on defense (five solo). In Philpott’s absence, Barnard was 7-of-16 for 70 yards with one interception.
Yerington, which is averaging over 41 points per game, improved to 5-0 overall (2-0 league). The Lions have won 15 consecutive games dating back to last season, including wins over Division I-A Truckee and Spring Creek this year.
The Highlanders are now 3-2 overall and 0-1 in league.