Mark Woodson and Bryson Navallo remember the painful feeling after losing to Yerington in the state semifinals a year ago.
The Meadows seniors want no part of that again in their final high school football game.
Both players will be key for the Mustangs (10-2) when they meet Yerington (8-2) at noon Saturday at Bishop Gorman. This time, the Division III state championship is at stake.
“Definitely, we want to win this time,” said Woodson, the team’s top lineman. “I honestly think since there were a lot of people that experienced that game, it’s going to be emotional and we’re going to play our hardest. We’re going to bring it all.”
Yerington, which lost 13 seniors, dismantled The Meadows 49-7 last season in Reno.
“You have to have a short memory,” Navallo said. “They’re a different team this year. We’re a different team. And we’re confident we have a good game plan … It’s two good football teams playing each other. It’s the championship. We’re going to have to not beat ourselves. Our defense has to hold up, and the offense has to be efficient.”
The Meadows will rely on its stingy defense and dominant backfield of Navallo, Jack Berkley and Nathan DeVera as it attempts to win its first state championship since 2009. Navallo, the Division III Offensive Player of the Year last season, probably will see the majority of the carries.
“I’m confident if we play hard,” Mustangs coach Frank DeSantis said. “That’s all I can ask for. I can’t worry about the other team. We’ve just got to play one game. We’ve gotten this far. We don’t have to beat them twice. It’s one game, one play, one quarter.”
The Mustangs, who have won 10 consecutive games, defeated Pershing County 20-6 in a state semifinal last Saturday. They allowed only 122 total yards, including 56 on the ground, to a high-powered offense.
The Meadows will need a repeat performance against the North’s No. 1 seed.
“They definitely love to run,” Woodson said. “They’re a quick team, and they ran to our weak spots (last season). But I think our defense is pretty sound now. It’s a definite strength. We’re going to play our hardest. We’ll have a long time to rest after this.”
Navallo said: “This year was really important for us. We’ve gone farther than any Meadows team has in a while. We’re just really happy that it’s all come together. We try to emphasize to the lower classes that these opportunities don’t come often. It takes a lot of work, and it’s not just given to us.”
Navallo, who was limited to 50 yards rushing against Yerington last season, said he’s eager for the rematch and hopes for revenge on the biggest stage.
“Our emotions are really invested in this team,” he said. “It’s more than any other year I’ve played. It would be the best feeling ever. Three years of hard work. It would mean everything.”