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August 28, 2014

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Northeast Division Preview:

Teams give chase to Las Vegas

Image

Jummel Hidrosollo

Las Vegas High coach Chris Faircloth, right, watches as linemen Alanzi Langstaff, left, and Hayden Remer go through drills at a preseason practice. The Wildcats are favored to win the Northeast Division.

2007 Standings

Canyon Springs (6-0 division, 9-2 overall)

Las Vegas (4-2 division, 9-5 overall)

Desert Pines (4-2 division, 5-6 overall)

Chaparral (2-4 division, 3-8 overall)

Valley (2-4 division, 2-7 overall)

Rancho (2-4 division, 5-5 overall)

Eldorado (1-5 division, 1-9 overall)

By The Numbers

1 — Sunrise Regional titles won by schools other than Las Vegas High since the area was split into region’s in 2000.

4 — New head coaches in the Northeast Division.

5 — Consecutive Sunrise Region titles for Las Vegas High.

14 — Straight victories by Las Vegas High against Rancho in the annual Bone Game, which is considered Southern Nevada’s most storied rivalry.

44 — Touchdown passes thrown by Canyon Springs quarterback DeVonte Christopher in 2007.

50 — Combined touchdown passes thrown by the league’s other starting quarterbacks in 2007.

It’s a consensus among the league’s coaches that Las Vegas High is the team to beat again in the Northeast Division.

“What people remember is how you finish,” Wildcats coach Chris Faircloth said. “Expectations are high because we have a tradition to carry on. We feel we underachieved last year because we fell short of state.”

The defending Sunrise Regional champions return several starters from last year’s state semifinals team and added a pair of key transfers — running back Reggie Bullock (Western) and quarterback Emir Lopez (Sierra Vista) — to an already deep roster.

“Vegas is in a class by itself. We try and copy what they do,” Chaparral coach Fernando Carmona said.

The Wildcats have earned the praise they’re getting by reaching the state title game five of the last seven years, and winning five consecutive regional championships.

However, Canyon Springs isn’t ready to hand over the division title after posting a perfect 6-0 record in division play last year.

“We’re expecting to keep our title,” Canyon Springs coach Chris Littmann said. “Expectations are high because we expect victory every game.”

There is a lot of new blood in the division as four teams have new head coaches — Canyon Springs, Eldorado, Rancho and Valley. Canyon Springs and Valley both promoted assistant coaches to the top spot, while Eldorado hired former Desert Pines coach Leon Evans.

Rancho coach Elvin Dick is the only fresh face, coming from Los Angeles.

“We’re creating a winning attitude here. We’re changing the culture,” Dick said.

Valley coach John Elwell said his team is comparable to Las Vegas.

“We can match their intensity and talent. It’s a matter of executing the game plan,” he said.

Other than Faircloth, Evans is the only other Northeast coach to win a region championship. He led Desert Pines to the crown in 2002, beating Las Vegas 42-18 in the championship game.

Desert Pines has made the postseason seven of the last nine years, but has not got past the first round since 2003.

“We’ve been in the upper echelon, but struggled a bit the last couple of years,” Desert Pines coach Paul Bennett said. “I don’t think you can count anyone out this year.”

Players to Watch

James Cammack, quarterback, Rancho — Cammack enters his third season under center for the Rams, passing for 1,053 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall. He’s arguably the top athlete in the Northeast Division and is eyeing the school’s first victory against Las Vegas High in the annual Bone Game in 14 years.

Tone Gatewood, running back, Eldorado — Gatewood only rushed for 153 yards on 47 carries last fall for the Sundevils, but don’t be surprised if the speedster leads the Northeast Division in yards this fall. First-year coach Leon Evans has upgraded the Sundevils offense and Gatewood will thrive as the feature back.

DeShawn Stewart, wide receiver, Canyon Springs — Stewart shined in the Pioneers’ pass-happy offense last year with 43 receptions for 1,002 yards and 14 touchdowns to lead all underclassman receivers in Southern Nevada. While several expect his production to go down after quarterback DeVonte Christopher graduated, Stewart plans to prove otherwise.

Kerwynn Williams, running back, Valley — The Northeast Division is loaded with talented athletes and Valley’s Williams is no exception. He’ll be the Vikings’ work horse and has the potential to change the landscape of a game on one play. He rushed for eight touchdowns on 108 carries last year.

Austin Woo, lineman, Las Vegas High — It’s rare for a freshman to make the varsity team — it’s even more rare for that to happen at perennial power Las Vegas High. But Woo, now a junior, will be a force again this fall for an experienced Wildcat line.

Brent Hinckley is a reporter for the Home News. He can be reached at 990-2687 or [email protected].

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