Monday, Aug. 23, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
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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.
Western coach Fernando Carmona will take the blame for what happened with his team last season.
Western went 1-8 and lost six of those games by 29 points or more. Carmona promises the Warriors will be more unified this season and it starts with the coaching.
“It’s been tough, but last year we were really wishy-washy with what we did,” Carmona said. “This year, we have a game plan and we’re sticking with it good or bad. It’s simple, but should be effective.”
Western’s transformation starts with a revamping of the offense and the defense. Carmona said the team would run different completely different schemes on both sides of the ball in 2010.
The players have already embraced the changes, Carmona said.
“I think they see the coaches are on the same page and we’re all striving for the same thing,” Carmona said. “We’re going to come into practice knowing what we’re working on and ready to move forward.”
The days of Western having one of the top teams in the Sunset Southwest division are long gone. The Warriors have only won three games in the last two years, but Carmona said reaching the playoffs was a realistic goal this season.
Western used a number of running backs last season to guide its offense. The offense returns one of those running backs, senior Allen Davis, this season.
Carmona thinks Davis will have plenty of room to run this year.
“We’re excited about our front line,” Carmona said. “They are real big, strong and have jelled together. It’s going to be one of the most positive parts of our team.”
Defensively, Aaron Buckley will lead the Warriors. Buckley will start at linebacker and also play receiver offensively.
Western lost a handful of starters on defense, but it could end up as a positive getting new kids an opportunity to compete.
If nothing else, they will be quick to the ball.
“We will live up to the Western tradition of having pretty good speed,” Carmona said. “I expect our guys to make the playoffs.”
A fresh coat of paint and a fresh perspective are among the changes being made around Western High School.
Western is one of five turnaround schools that missed the marks set by No Child Left Behind and now faces the challenge of increasing student achievement.
The school is the third oldest in the district and its campus lies near Decatur Boulevard and Veterans Memorial Highway. The majority of students attending Western are minorities from disadvantaged homes. Western is known for having a rough past, but students are optimistic about the future of their school.
Change is apparent according to students interviewed in September.
“When I was in eighth grade, I was told I was going to get shot or stabbed when I came to Western,” said senior Kole Yanez, 17. “That might have been true 15 years ago, but now, you don’t see that here.”
Rules are tightly enforced on campus. The school keeps a strict dress code policy and cell phone use during class time is not permitted.
Halls are designated by grade level giving students a sense of ownership and community. Pride is clearly visible at pep rallies and sporting events. The newfound pride might just be he medicine needed to alleviate the 8 percent dropout rate, the highest in the district.
“It’s like building a house. You need a strong foundation,” said Neddy Alvarez, principal. “You need those strong relationships. When kids know we care about them, the learning will take place.”
- Year built:
- Principal (Year Hired):
- Neddy Alvarez (2008)
- Mission Statement:
- “The mission of Western High School is to promote scholarship, encourage good citizenship, and embrace our cultural diversity.”
- Approximately 2,400
- Notable alumni:
- Frank Hawkins, former NFL player
Capt. Nicole Malachowski, first female Thunderbird
Ronnie Vannucci, drummer of The Killers
Tom Collins, Clark County commissioner
- School Report Card:
Compiled by Gregan Wingert