Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008 | 7:09 p.m.
Prep Sports Now podcast
- Palo Verde pounds Las Vegas High (Nov. 29)
- Father and son duo anchor Palo Verde’s stingy defense (Nov. 27)
- Hales hopes to continue family tradition at Las Vegas (Nov. 27)
- Clash of the Valley’s final two titans (Nov. 25)
- Las Vegas High pulls off championship comeback (Nov. 22)
- Palo Verde blows out defending state champs (Nov. 22)
Las Vegas High is no stranger to the state semifinals.
The Wildcats have advanced to the Southern Nevada championship every year since 2004 and even snagged state titles in 2005 and 2006.
But despite their familiarity with high stakes contests, the Wildcats seemed shell-shocked Saturday while falling into an early 21-point deficit. That early hole proved too difficult to overcome as Las Vegas eventually crumbled 42-21 to Palo Verde.
"We played an absolutely horrendous first half and then we tried to make a run, but we just didn't have enough there at the end," said Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth.
Saturday's loss is only the Wildcats' second loss all season after, but it is Las Vegas' second consecutive shortcoming in the state semifinal game.
Las Vegas stumbled in the third week of the season, as Utah's Pine View High School smashed the Wildcats 41-13. Since that wake-up call, however, Las Vegas won 10 straight games by an average margin of 20.7 points.
"It's been a struggle with this team to try to get them where we wanted them to be all year," Faircloth said. "I thought we were getting close as the season was winding down, but we just weren't good enough at some positions in order to close the deal and I think it caught up with us. Well, I know it caught up with us today."
Despite the disappointing loss Saturday, the Wildcats possessed one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the Valley.
Las Vegas racked up more than 2,600 rushing yards and nearly 2,700 passing yards thanks to two senior transfers. Quarterback Emir Lopez joined the Wildcats from Sierra Vista and running back Reggie Bullock moved from Western to make a huge impact with the perennial power Wildcats.
Bullock rushed for 1,968 total offensive yards with 28 touchdowns while Lopez completed about 59 percent of his passes for 2,700 yards and 27 touchdowns.
"I couldn't have asked for two better kids as far as coming over and plugging into the program," Faircloth said about his dynamic backfield duo. "They were good today, obviously Emir had a tough day, but we wouldn't be here without him. They were great to have in our program. Believe me I couldn't have been happier to have them."
Although successful all season, neither Lopez nor Bullock could find much working room Saturday under the pressure of the Palo Verde defense.
Lopez threw four interceptions and completed just 10 of 26 pass attempts for 192 yards. Bullock fared a bit better with 103 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.
"This is real tough," Bullock said. "Even though we have heart and we fight through all the quarters, we shouldn't be down like that. I don't think we ever trailed like that in the regular season. None of it matters now."
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].