Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009 | 2:09 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer and Steve Silver break down last week's truly memorable high school football action and preview this Friday's upcoming games. They also discuss the latest NIAA realignment news.
Perryn Hale is learning on the job this fall during his first season as a varsity football coach.
It’s just the expectations for school he’s at — always-competitive Cheyenne High — doesn’t allow much room for error.
So, when the Desert Shields dropped their first two games of the season, a pair of setbacks by a combined 96-13, Hale was stuck in the middle of some unfair criticism.
The 29-year-old was too young and inexperienced to helm a program with a pedigree like Cheyenne, he didn’t have enough qualified assistants coaches and his team simply looked unorganized on Friday nights, the skeptics said.
What they didn’t realize, however, is Hale has a passion for his athletes, he’s virtually working around the clock to get the program back among the state’s elite and — despite the early outcomes — he knows a thing or two about football.
More importantly, Cheyenne only returned one starter and four regular contributors from last year’s squad that led Bishop Gorman in the second half of the Sunset Regional semifinals before losing.
Even the most experienced coaches would have struggled.
“They aren’t used to losing at Cheyenne and those could have been two of the worst losses Cheyenne has ever had,” said Hale, Cheyenne’s junior varsity coach last year who was hired in the spring after the school parted ways with longtime coach Charles Anthony.
But Hale never questioned his dedication and he is finally seeing the fruits of his labor rewarded.
Cheyenne (2-2) has won its last two games and is full of confidence entering its crucial Northwest Division contest against Arbor View on Sept. 25.
The team, which is still loaded with an arsenal of talented athletes, feels it is a contender.
It all started with the first win, a dramatic victory on the game’s final play that Hale will always remember. Xavian Johnson returned a kickoff for a touchdown Sept. 11 on the last play for a 16-10 victory against Shadow Ridge.
Talking to his team after the game, Hale admits he became emotional. The victory validated what they were doing and showed the Desert Shields weren’t going to throw in the towel on the season.
“It was like the weight of the world was lifted up and off my shoulders,” Hale said. “I just had to keep the faith because I knew I could do this job. The Lord wasn’t going to give me more than I could handle. I always felt we were on the right track. We just had to keep working.”
Cheyenne got 203 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Jordan Butler on Sept. 18 in a 38-21 victory against Faith Lutheran. Following this victory, however, Hale wasn’t as emotional.
This time, he was more upset at how his team closed the game.
Butler’s second touchdown gave Cheyenne a comfortable 38-14 lead late in the fourth quarter and sent his teammates into a premature celebration — one Hale deemed as inappropriate. Faith proceeded to return the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to outrage the coach.
“Everyone was standing their hooting and hollering after Butler scored,” Hale said. “I know in my heart that isn’t right. You have to be humble with your victories.”
Sounds like the coach is on the right track — regardless of his age or inexperience.
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].