Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 | 11:10 a.m.
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For Southern Nevada prep football, Friday marks the grand daddy of all games – the Bone Game.
On Friday, the Rams (4-3, 3-0) will host the Wildcats (6-1, 3-0) for the 52nd meeting of these bitter Northeast Division enemies for the bone. The schools, two of the state's oldest, have played since the 1930s before the bone was introduced to the rivalry in 1957.
"It's a big game, no question about it," said Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth, who has coached in 17 battles for the bone. "It's the biggest crowd in high school football every year. The place will be packed. People will be crowded around the fences looking in because the tickets will be sold out. It's really fun to be a part of a tradition like this."
The rush of a rivalry is one reason Faircloth can't wait until Friday. The Wildcats' recent dominance in the contest is another.
Although the schools are 25-25-1 in the all-time series, the prized cow bone has resided at Las Vegas since 1996. During its tenure, the Wildcats have outscored the Rams, 450-108, including a 32-0 blowout in last year's meeting.
But Rancho's new head coach, Elvin Dick, hopes he can change the Rams' recent misfortunes in the first rivalry match-up at Rancho since 2003.
With Rancho's school and football facilities undergoing a $75 million makeover beginning in 2004, the Rams spent three seasons playing every game on the road.
"There is a group of kids here who have never even come close to beating Vegas. It would be huge for them to win the bone back, especially at home," Dick said. "We do talk about what kind of a legacy they want to leave behind. But they know that they have to be perfect. There is no way to beat Vegas unless you play a flawless game."
That pressure to play error-free football Friday will fall primarily on Rancho's quarterback, senior James Cammack.
Cammack, an elusive rusher and potent passer, leads the valley with 18 touchdowns and about 1,700 yards through the air.
The third-year starter is so skilled that Faircloth plans to implement a new defensive scheme Friday in which he rotates two complete sets of defensive linemen to aid in the Wildcats' pursuit of Cammack.
"He's phenomenal," Faircloth said. "He literally may have the ball in his hands for 10 seconds because you can't catch him. He is that fast. He toys with the defensive linemen. He'll speed up, slow down and just run around you. Eventually his receivers will get open and when they do they are very athletic and they find the end zone fast."
Cammack's favorite target has been his cousin, senior receiver Dijon Holman. Holman has reigned in more than 35 catches for nearly 700 yards.
But Las Vegas did not earn a 6-1 record without offensive weapons of their own, including two senior transfers — quarterback Emir Lopez, from Sierra Vista, and running back Reggie Bullock, from Western.
Lopez has completed an impressive 72 percent of his passes for more than 1,300 yards while Bullock has rushed for 891 yards on 89 carries.
"With my great offensive line and guys like (Bullock) and our group of receivers, my job is easy," Lopez said. "I just have to get them the ball. It'd be devastating to lose the bone."
The hype surrounding the bone aside, this game is a crucial step in the path to the playoffs and could even determine who earns home field advantage in the Northeast Division.
The schools are the only teams in the Northeast with 3-0 league records, which only adds another layer of importance to an already storied rivalry.
"We're both 3-0 right now and I think you'll see two 3-0 teams come ready for a hard-hitting game," Cammack said. "We want that bone. We have to get it. We haven't had it in so many years, I don't even know what would happen if we got it. We'd probably go crazy. It'd be nuts."
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.