Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Palo Verde (7-0 division, 12-1 overall)
Cheyenne (6-1 division, 8-3 overall)
Mojave (5-2 division, 8-3 overall)
Cimarron-Memorial (4-3 division, 6-5 overall)
Centennial (3-4 division, 6-4 overall)
Legacy (2-5 division, 2-8 overall)
Shadow Ridge (1-6 division, 3-7 overall)
Arbor View (0-7 division, 2-8 overall)
By The Numbers
1 — Appearances in the playoffs for Mojave during the school’s 12 year history. The Rattlers lost to Western in last year’s Sunset Regional quarterfinals.
2 — Titles Cimarron-Memorial senior tailback Stephen Nixon has in the 100 meters at the state track meet. Nixon captured crown in 2007 and ‘08, winning last year’s title in 10.79 seconds.
5 — Consecutive appearances in the state semifinals for Palo Verde. They lost to Bishop Gorman last year.
12 — Seasons Palo Verde’s Darwin Rost has coached the Panthers, making him the Las Vegas Valley’s most tenured coach.
It wouldn’t be surprising if a Northwest Division team fell from playoff contention to last place in a matter of weeks this season.
The league is arguably the most competitive in Southern Nevada, and this fall, coaches agree more teams than ever will be in contention.
“Right now it seems the Northwest Division has a lot of the better athletes,” Cheyenne coach Charles Anthony. “Our (league) has always been known for having several teams who could win it, where as another division may have one or two standouts.”
Palo Verde — the Sunset Region winner in four of the last six years — is once again the division favorite. The Panthers were second in the Home News’ Pre-Season Coaches Poll.
The Panthers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Bishop Gorman in the Sunset Regional finals and would like nothing more than to redeem their single blemish from last season.
Palo Verde may still be the favorite, but the league has plenty of contenders.
Cimarron-Memorial has the tradition of winning a pair of state titles in the late 1990s, while Centennial’s near upset of Palo Verde last fall showed it is a playoff caliber team.
Meanwhile, Mojave is coming off of its first postseason appearance and Shadow Ridge is a year removed from a trip to the regional semifinals.
Perhaps the biggest surprise could come from Arbor View and Legacy, two newer schools looking for breakthrough seasons.
“Palo Verde always has a great team and Cheyenne is really special this year, but Arbor View is up and coming and Legacy is coming around,” Centennial coach George Baker said. “I think their growing pains are over.”
The league is nicknamed the “Black and Blue Division” for its teams’ strong defenses and rushing attacks.
But with the intensity of league play, several teams get a little too “black and blue” by the end of season.
“It’s a pretty physical division,” Anthony said. “Every year we have been in playoffs we had a couple people hurt. The teams that can stay healthy are the ones that can win.”
Players to Watch
Dave Castro Jr., linebacker, Palo Verde — Castro, a three-year starter at linebacker, had no reservations when asked by coach Darwin Rost about an added role for his senior year. With the Panthers thin on the offensive line, Castro will play both ways — anything to win the state title.
Maurice Cotton, running back, Mojave — Cotton saw limited action on offense last year with the Rattlers’ senior-heavy team, but will receive significant carries this fall as one of their lone returners. He also plays linebacker and was a second-team all-Northwest Division selection last year.
Torin Harris, defensive back, Palo Verde — Harris is one of the nation’s top defensive backs and committed to USC this summer after impressing coaches during the school’s summer camp. He’s so respected locally that opposing quarterbacks usually don’t throw to his side of the field.
Triton Manumaleuna, linebacker, Cimarron-Memorial — Manumaleuna hasn't received the accolades of the division's other players, but when it's all said and done, don't be surprised if he has a big impact on Friday nights. Manumaleuna loves contact and will anchor the Spartans' defense.
Jeremiah Tofaeono, offensive line, Cheyenne — At 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, Tofaeono is one of the division’s most feared players. He’s a powerful blocker who will control the line of scrimmage and create space for the tailbacks. He’s being recruited by BYU, Oregon State, and Washington State.
Sean Ammerman is a reporter for the Home News. He can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].