Typically, two weeks is not enough time to get a good read on the prep football season. But, with Labor Day just barely in the rear-view mirror, a few facts have already become abundantly clear in Nevada:1. The Southeast League is going to be a dogfight
Two teams — Basic (Henderson)
and Foothill (Henderson)
— are off to 2-0 starts and have looked good in the process. Del Sol (Las Vegas)
, the defending Sunrise Region champion, bounced back from its opening-week loss. And Silverado (Las Vegas)
blanked Desert Oasis (Las Vegas)
, which was a playoff team a season ago, in former UNLV and NFL star Randall Cunningham's first game on the sidelines as offensive coordinator.
But the most impressive performance thus far might have come in a losing effort as Liberty (Henderson)
pushed Palo Verde (Las Vegas)
, which is No. 3 in the MaxPreps state rankings, to the brink before falling 24-21. The Patriots were without senior defensive end Sam Tai
, one of the state's top recruits, due to a leg injury he suffered during the preseason.
Only four teams will qualify for the 4A playoffs and league play gets underway next week, so, as they say on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland, "Hang on to them hats and glasses ... "2. Dylan Sawyers is the most versatile player in the state
Granted, that's more of an opinion than fact, but it's still pretty tough to argue with that after the Carson (Carson City)
junior put on a show in the Senators' 31-10 win over Del Campo (Fair Oaks, Calif.)
intercepted two passes from his free safety position, leading to 10 Senators points, and scored two second-half touchdowns. The first was a 9-yard run that was set up by Sawyers' 78-yard kickoff return, and he added a 55-yard touchdown run after being held in check offensively for most of the first half.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Sawyers is expected to be one of the state's top recruits in the class of 2012.3. Brandon Wright is the best running back in the state
OK, another opinion. But again, it's tough to argue considering
first two performances.
The senior from Palo Verde needed just 12 carries to gain 292 yards and score four times in the Panthers' 62-20 romp over Green Valley (Henderson)
in the opener. Wright went for 180 yards and two TDs on 27 carries in the 24-21 win over Liberty last week.
Some quick math shows that Wright has 472 yards and six scores already, meaning he could reach the 1,000-yard barrier well before the calendar even flips to October. Could he go for 2,000 yards? It will be interesting to see how many touches Wright gets as the season goes along and the Panthers find themselves in a few blowouts.
According to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association record book, only 12 players have surpassed 2,000 yards rushing in a season. James Edwards of Spring Creek holds the record for most rushing yards in a season with 2,993 set in 2004. Antoine White of Las Vegas ran for 2,949 yards in 14 games in 2001, so Wright, who reportedly is looking at Cal, Colorado, Utah and San Diego State, still has a ways to go in that category.4. The 4A Northern Region owns Sacramento
Officially, schools from the region went 2-1 against their California counterparts, but even the loss was a solid showing by Reed (Sparks)
in a 42-25 loss at highly-regarded Granite Bay (Calif.)
took down Nevada Union (Grass Valley)
12-7 on the road and Carson routed Del Campo 31-10 to account for the two victories. Nevada Union and Del Campo were each top-10 teams in the Sacramento area.
Those three Northern Region schools, along with Bishop Manogue (Reno)
, appear to have separated themselves from the pack. Spanish Springs (Sparks)
is also off to a 2-0 start and is making an early case to be included with the so-called Big Four.
Of course, none of this includes the 38-13 win by Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
over another Sacramento-area squad, Del Oro (Loomis, Calif.)
The Sunset Region kicks off league play this week with the two most intriguing matchups coming in the Northwest League.
Traditional powers Cimarron-Memorial (Las Vegas)
and Cheyenne (North Las Vegas)
meet with plenty of notable storylines. The visiting Spartans (0-1) took it on the chin against Las Vegas
in week 1, but have had a couple weeks to look at the film and make improvements. Meanwhile, this is the season opener for Cheyenne and the debut of coach David Cochran, who is the Desert Shields' fourth coach in the last three seasons. Cochran was an assistant at Cheyenne for five years, but was not on the coaching staff last season.
The other game is a battle of unbeatens as Arbor View (Las Vegas)
travels to Centennial (Las Vegas)
. Arbor View has outscored its two opponents 92-21, albeit against slightly suspect competition. The Aggies have never made the playoffs and probably can't afford a loss here against a Centennial team that figures to also be in the chase for the postseason. The Bulldogs (2-0), who haven't reached the playoffs since 2003, are off to a good start under first-year coach Leon Evans.
Games involving schools in the Clark County School District are scheduled for Saturday due to the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.
Up north, Battle Mountain
and Pershing County (Lovelock)
go at it on Friday for early supremacy in the 2A Northern League.MCQUEEN HONORS DALTON
McQueen (Reno) named its football field after former coach Ken Dalton in a ceremony last Friday. Then the Lancers (2-0) showed why they are one of the early favorites in the 4A Northern Region with a 54-19 win over North Valleys (Reno)
Dalton retired in February 2009 after leading McQueen to six state championships during his 27 years on the sidelines. His four 4A titles are tops in that classification.
"It's very humbling and I'm very proud of the great tradition we built at McQueen High School," Dalton told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I spent a lot of time on that field."
Running back Nick Shepard
finished with 206 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns — all in the first half — to lead the Lancers' offense. Senior Rollins Stallworth
, one of the Northern Region's top college prospects, caught a touchdown pass to open the scoring and also had an interception in the fourth quarter.HILL REACHES MILESTONEGreen Valley (Henderson)
girls volleyball coach Erin Hill got her 400th career victory last week when the Gators (9-1) swept Palo Verde (Las Vegas)
25-6, 25-12, 25-21 in a nonleague match.
Hill, a Las Vegas native, has been at the school since it opened in 1991. She has led the Gators to four state titles and seven appearances in the final.
Hill was the recipient of the NIAA Model Coach of the Year award in 2005 and has been honored as the coach of the year by the Southern Nevada Volleyball Coaches Association five times.David Schoen works at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and is a former Associate Sports Editor and Turn2 columnist for the Oakland (Calif.) Tribune. You can reach him at ByDavid1@aol.com.