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November 24, 2014

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Sunrise Mountain strives for improvements in second year

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Sam Morris

Sunrise Mountain High School football players Khalil Cogman and DeMarcus McCullum.

Coach Jason Basso

Sunrise Mountain coach Jason Basso talks about the 2010 high school football season.

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Previewing the new football season

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Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer discuss the upcoming high school football season. They will let you know whether or not anyone can dethrone defending state champion Bishop Gorman, release their state title sleepers teams and give a quick breakdown of the area's 30-plus schools.

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The Sunrise Mountain High football team will enter its second year this fall significantly ahead of where it was last year during its initial season.

The Miners, like several first year schools which have opened over the last decade in Las Vegas, struggled in its infancy for a variety of reasons — the school had no seniors, the players weren’t familiar with each other and virtually everyone on the roster had no varsity experience.

Overcoming the lack of familiarity was the biggest obstacle, coach Jason Basso said. The new school took students primarily from Eldorado High, Desert Pines and Mojave.

“Last year, we weren’t a team. It often felt like the kids had that us versus them mentality,” Basso said. “Now we have a team that worked hard together in the offseason. They are vested in.”

One of the biggest differences between the two seasons will be team strength. The school’s weight room didn’t open until November last year, and when it did open, it wasn’t furnished with a full compliment of equipment because of school district cutbacks, Basso said.

Basso said one of his offensive lineman could only bench 135 pounds last year. Now, the same player can lift 225 pounds.

“They’ve spent a lot of time working with each other over the summer,” Basso said. “They finally understand what it means to work in the offseason. Football can’t be a seasonal deal.”

Sunrise Mountain will play a full varsity schedule this year and compete in the Sunrise Northeast Division. Last year, it went 2-7 playing lower-classification level schools and a handful of junior varsity teams. Both victories came against junior varsity teams, and they suffered more than their share of lopsided defeats — 74-13 against 2A The Meadows, two losses to 3A Boulder City High by a combined 122-0 and a 68-0 setback against 3A Moapa Valley.

It’s not likely that Sunrise Mountain will be in the position to challenge league power Las Vegas High, but don’t expect the Miners to be an easy win.

“We have made some improvements. The biggest thing for us is being patient,” Basso said.

Quarterback Chris Moore, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound sophomore who started every game last year, will continue airing it out to senior Cody Trapp. The 6-foot-7 Trapp caught 38 passes for 505 yards last year. DeMarcus McCullum will handle the running duties and double at defensive back.

Two-way lineman Khalil Cogam (5-foot-11, 225-pounds) is one of the Miners’ top players. Sophomore linebacker and fullback Jesus Pena will also be counted on.

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