Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Friday, Aug. 27, 2010 | 9:25 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010 | 12:01 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.
But he also remembers then first-year coach Gary Maki preaching about how the Trailblazers would one day be one of the Las Vegas Valley’s top teams.
That day came Friday.
Durango scored 21 unanswered points to close the game against host Del Sol. Roberts threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes to erase a 14-point halftime deficit in pulling out a dramatic 21-14 victory.
It was a victory three years in the making.
“I could see in those younger kids coming up (two years ago) that they really bought into what we were doing,” Maki said.
When Maki took over the program in 2008, he promoted a handful of sophomores, including Roberts, to the varsity team. They took their lumps, finishing 1-9 that year.
But judging by the comeback against Del Sol, which was the large-school classification state runner-up last year and one of the city’s most respected programs, the Trailblazers could be in for several more meaningful wins this season.
The players, some surely recalling past lopsided defeats, celebrated on the sideline as the seconds ticked off the clock.
“That was a big win right there. We played our hearts out,” Roberts said.
Durango started off sluggishly in the first half, but Roberts’ big arm was the difference in the rally. He started the Durango scoring by throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Michael Massaro with 3:40 to play in the third quarter.
The Trailblazers missed the extra point and still trailed by eight points, but the momentum had clearly shifted.
The one-win 2008 team could have never found the extra something to rally, and even last year’s team that went 8-3 and finished second in the Southwest Division, would have arguably thrown in the towel facing a double-digit deficit.
But this team is different.
“It was a matter of pride and reaching deep down on the inside,” Maki said.
Roberts, who completed 10 of 20 passes for 158 yards, led the Trailblazers on another scoring drive four minutes later. This time, he threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Neighbors with 11:24 to play.
Durango, however, couldn’t get the 2-point conversion and trailed 14-12.
That’s when its defense went to work. Del Sol, which didn’t score in the second half, had trouble moving the ball late and was limited to two first downs in the second half.
Durango closed with nine points in the final five minutes — a 23-yard field goal from Antonio Becerra for a 15-14 lead and a 2-yard touchdown run from Julio Mora with 2:23 to play.
Del Sol, the defending Sunrise Region champion, started the scoring late in the first quarter with a 75-yard touchdown run from junior Chris Marshall.
But Miller had no time to pass most of the night in completing 5 of 14 passes for 73 yards and one interception. Also, Del Sol was hindered with multiple false start penalties.
“This is a new group. They just can’t think because they are putting on a Del Sol jersey on Friday night that they are going to win the game,” Del Sol coach Preston Goroff said.