Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008 | 1:45 a.m.
Friday was supposed to be Legacy’s coming out party in the bruising Sunset Northwestern conference.
The 3-year-old high school had an opportunity not only to pick up its ninth consecutive victory, but also to dethrone the perennial division powerhouse Cheyenne Desert Shields in front of a home crowd.
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A successful outing would cement the Longhorns’ reign atop the Northwest division as one of just two undefeated teams in the Las Vegas region.
But the Desert Shields (6-1, 3-1), in need of another conference victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, decided to crash the party with a 26-0 blowout of the Longhorns (6-1, 3-1) thanks to a dominating ground game.
“Anytime you win in conference it’s a big win,” said Cheyenne head coach Charles Anthony. “Like I’ve said before, there are no easy games in our conference ... Every year in our league you can go from first to last in one week. That is nothing new to us. We know we have to play hard every week and today was no exception.”
Partly because of gusty winds, the Desert Shields kept the ball on the ground for the majority of the game, as eight different players amassed 261 yards on 56 carries. All four of Cheyenne’s touchdowns came via the rushing attack.
Despite only accumulating a 6-0 lead at halftime, Cheyenne’s relentless ground game proved especially effective in the second half by wearing out Legacy’s defense.
With the Longhorns only able to pick up five first downs in the game, Legacy’s defense eventually collapsed, allowing 20 second-half points.
Junior running back Jordan Butler punched in two of those scores on goal line touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.
“We have to treat it as a learning experience,” said Legacy head coach Dave Snyder. “Obviously you are playing one of the top three teams in the state of Nevada as far as I’m concerned. They are a good team with a ton of athletes. You have to come in and be ready, because if you turn it into a track meet, they’ll beat you. I think that’s what we did tonight and we have to learn from that to get better.”
Perhaps the first thing the Longhorns must correct is their suddenly inept offense.
After averaging nearly 34 points per game and outscoring opponents 203-77 in the first six weeks of the season, the Longhorns couldn't figure out how to move the ball against the stifling Desert Shields defense.
Legacy not only turned the ball over twice, but also had to punt four times Friday – a credit to Cheyenne’s defensive scheme.
“We knew they had those quick, shifty guys in the backfield, so we read our keys and kept contain on them,” said Cheyenne senior linebacker Damien Proby. “We did our job and got it done tonight. I think it shows that we are ready for anything and everything. Power football, speed football, we have it all and we can stop it all and we really do it as a team.”
The Desert Shields proved their defensive dominance early in one of the contest’s key turning points.
After Cheyenne failed to convert on a fourth down attempt deep in its own end in the fourth quarter, Legacy took over the ball at the Desert Shields’ 14-yard line. With the game still scoreless, the Longhorns gained only 1 yard and failed to pick up any points in four plays.
“We weren’t nervous. We were anxious and excited, if anything, to go out there and stop them once we saw the offense turn the ball over,” Proby said.
As a unit, Cheyenne’s defense shut down Legacy’s offense, allowing just 115 total yards and pitching its third shutout of the season.
With just one game now separating Cheyenne and Legacy from the still undefeated Pale Verde Panthers (7-0, 4-0), the Northwest title remains up for grabs as the season approaches its final three weeks.
Cheyenne travels to Shadow Ridge (2-5, 1-3) next week for another division match-up.
“We have some things we need to get better at and we have some mistakes to correct, but we’ll get there,” Anthony said.
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].