Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
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In preparation for this Saturday's Battle for the Fremont Cannon at Sam Boyd Stadium between UNLV and Nevada-Reno, Ryan Greene chats with Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Dan Hinxman for a closer look at the No. 25 Wolf Pack. You'll find out just how Chris Ault's team is approaching this one mentally, along with who are some key names, outside of the obvious, to keep in mind.
From The Other Side
- '3' is key to Nevada-UNLV rivalry Reno Gazette-Journal
- Wolf Pack Notebook: Kaepernick strong against UNLV Reno Gazette-Journal
- Pack football cracks into polls at 25 — Reno Gazette-Journal
- Wolf Pack quickly snaps focus onto UNLV game — Reno Gazette-Journal
- 'Beat UNLV' Special Section — The Nevada Sagebrush
UNLV senior linebacker Ronnie Paulo admits being apprehensive when approached about changing his jersey number to No. 36.
He had grown attached the No. 56 he wore his initial three seasons and had to take a day to think over the proposal. But when he started thinking, he realized the change was a no-brainer decision.
Paulo, a local product out of Western High, is the first Rebel to wear the newly created “Battle Born” jersey. The No. 36 is in honor of Nevada being the nation’s 36th state.
The jersey “will be worn by a Nevadan who best exemplifies the Battle Born spirit of his state and the toughness and pride of Rebel Football,” according to a news release. The state’s flag is on the back of the jersey.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Paulo plans to show that Nevada spirit Saturday. The Rebels (1-3) host in-state rival UNR in the annual Fremont Cannon rivalry game looking to snap a five-game losing streak in the series.
“It’s a big honor wearing that jersey,” Paulo said. “It is signifies something bigger than me.”
Like several longtime Las Vegas residents, he has a natural dislike for the sports teams of Reno. When you consider Saturday’s contest will be his last attempt at beating UNR, it’s safe to say Paulo needs little motivation.
“I’ve got my blood boiling this week in anticipation,” Paulo said. “It’s a special week. We’re playing for more than ourselves.”
UNR (4-0) has impressive wins against Cal and BYU this month in cracking the national top 25 rankings for the first time since 1948. They are three-touchdown betting favorites against UNLV.
That doesn’t phase Paulo, who like several of his teammates, doesn’t hide is dislike for UNR.
“Maybe it's because they wear blue, or maybe it’s because of (Reno coach) Chris Ault,” he said.
Paulo, who is also a captain, knows the defense he is a leader of will need to have a better performance than in the last two years against UNR.
Two years ago, UNR quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, and he passed for another two scores in dissecting the UNLV defense for a 49-27 victory.
Last year, UNR ran with ease against the Rebel defense in a 63-28 victory. Kaepernick had 381 total yards.
“They have a great team. You can’t deny that,” Paulo said.
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