50-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF AULT’S FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP
Two years ago marked the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest high school football teams ever in the state of Nevada.Head coach Chris Ault’s 1970 Bishop Manogue High Miners.Long before he won a single game as the Nevada Wolf Pack’s coach, Ault won a Nevada Class AA state title across the street from Nevada at Bishop Manogue for the Miners.”There’s no point in finishing in second place,” Ault told his Miners a few weeks before its championship game against Boulder City. You might as well finish last then.
All anyone cares about is who’s No. 1.”Ault’s Miners finished a perfect 10-0 in 1970, whipping Boulder City 48-24 on Nov. 14, 1970 at Hug High to win the title and cap off one of the most dominating seasons in Nevada high school football history.The Miners, which finished second in the Northern AA in 1969 under Ault, opened the 1970 season with a 46-0 trouncing of Hawthorne.
Quarterback Pete Barbieri was 15-of-24 for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Two of the TD passes went to running back Jim Digesti. More than half (eight) of his completions went to Dave Fleiner. Ault, who made Colin Kaepernick one of the best two-way threats in college football history at Nevada from 2007-10, had a true and rare (for 1970) two-way threat in Barbieri. And nobody in the state of Nevada knew how to defend it.The Miners went to 2-0 with a hard-fought 28-12 win over Fallon, the school which began Ault’s coaching career (as an assistant) in 1968. Barbieri was 10-of-20, tossing TD passes to Mike O’Gara and Dan Hastings.
Digesti scored twice and rushed for 73 yards.A 42-0 victory over Class AAA Carson City made the Miners 3-0. Digesti had a 64-yard TD run on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Barbieri was 9-of-14 for 134 yards. Digesti ran for 139 yards and also caught a 44-yard pass for a score.Manogue improves to 4-0 with a 58-0 win over White Pine. Barbieri was 14-of-21 for 282 yards as Ault’s offense continued to dominate. Digesti ran for 137 yards and also returned an interception 63 yards for a score. Dennis Hastings caught two TD passes and Fleiner caught a 67-yarder for another TD. After the game Ault praised his defensive line, namely Ray Hagar, Tim Jaureguito, Frank Landes, Desmond Powers, Joe Murry, Kim Walsh and om Fuetsch.The Miners ripped through Douglas 72-12 the following week to go to 5-0. Barbieri ran for 85 yards and passed for 185. Digesti ran for 215 yards and scored five touchdowns, four on the ground. Fleiner returned an interception 60 yards for a score as the Miners dominated both sides of the ball.Ault’s Miners then trounced Yerington 62-18 as Barbieri scored four times on runs and tossed one TD pass. Digesti had a 44-yard TD run and Fleiner caught a 57-yard TD pass.
Yerington quarterback Mike Rippee, who would later become a running back on Ault’s first Nevada team in 1976, had two touchdown passes.The Miners improved to 7-0 by whipping Lowry 30-0. Barbieri tossed scoring passes to O’Gara and Digesti. The following week Manogue went to 8-0 by destroying Elko 54-6. Barbieri had three touchdown runs and three touchdown passes. O’Gara caught all three TD passes. Digesti ran for 208 yards and two scores.It now looked like the Miners would never be beaten.”That is probably one of the finest high school teams for its size that I’ve ever seen,” Elko coach Jerry Hassett said.With just one regular season game and the state title game remaining, ault was asked if he would tone down his practices.”We’re going to scrimmage on Tuesdays and Wednesdays like we always have,” Ault said. The reason we’re 8-0, especially on offense, is because of execution. And the way you get execution is by scrimmaging.”T
he Miners improved to 9-0 by beating Stewart Indian School. Digesti had two TD runs. O’Gara had a school-record 16 catches for 207 yards. Barbieri was an unheard of (for high school football in 1970) 22-of-34 for 260 yards.”When you have a team that goes undefeated week and week and the pressure is really on they ave to be good kids,” Ault said of his team. Their attitude has to be tremendous.”On the performances of Barberi and O’Gara, Ault said, “It was their last game on Miner Field and they went out with a smash.”The Miners then went out the next week and won the state title, whipping Boulder City. The Miners started slow, trailing 6-0 after one quarter after turning the ball over twice.”This was our first state championship and everyone seemed a little tense,” Ault said.Barbieri ran 60 yards for a touchdown as the Miners took an 8-6 lead and never looked back. Mike Whitemaine then sacked Boulder city quarterback Don McDougal, forcing a fumble.
Len Pugh fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown and 16-6 Manogue lead. The Miners had scored 16 points in just 32 seconds to completely turn the game around.Fleiner would later catcher a pair of TD passes from Barbieri, from 58 and 74 yards out to turn the game into a rout. Digesti ran for 207 yards on 16 carries. Steve Besso scored on a one-yard run.Ault was now a champion for the first time in his head coaching career.”I feel very fortunate and proud to have been able to coach these kids,” Ault said after the game.He then added a statement that would fuel his North vs South state of Nevada competitiveness throughout his career, even when the trophy was a large cannon.”We wanted to win the championship for the northern part of the state,” he said.