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October 1, 2014

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high school football:

Top prospect Cedrick Poutasi gives Desert Pines an advantage up front

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Sam Morris

Desert Pines High School football players Cedrick Poutasi and Allen Vaiao.

Cedrick Poutasi

Desert Pines High offensive lineman Cedrick Poutasi talks about the upcoming high school football season.

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer celebrate the return of football season with an hour-long podcast diving into anything and everything regarding local high schools. They also look back on the victories by Bishop Gorman and Moapa Valley in the Sollenberger Classic and finish with week one picks.

With two of the valley’s top offensive linemen leading the way, Desert Pines High coach Paul Bennett admits his offensive play calling this fall could favor running the football.

Led by Cedrick Poutasi, a 6-foot-6, 325-pound tackle with scholarship offers from several major schools, and 6-foot, 300-pound Allen Vaiao, the Jaguars should be able to have success in the ground game.

But to be successful, Bennett knows it will take being equally dangerous — or least having the threat of being equally dangerous — in the passing department.

“We are going to have to keep it balanced,” the coach said. “But there is no question, we are going to run the ball. Ultimately, what we do is based on our personnel.”

Senior running back and safety Leon Hayes, who has a scholarship offer from UTEP, rushed for 893 rushing yards and five touchdowns last year and is eyeing a big year. Poutasi, you see, has been that impressive.

Poutasi, who has offers from the likes of Utah, UCLA, Washington and Oregon State, has tremendous strength and footwork for someone his size. He showed his strength this spring during a national evaluation event by lifting 185-pounds 27 times — well above the national average.

“I tell you want, the kid has transformed himself into a big-time player,” Bennett said. “I mean the kid is so huge and strong. We are looking to do big things with them.”

Defensively, senior Davion Toney (6-foot-1, 150-pounds) will be a three-year starter at defensive back and one of the team’s fastest players. “He’s a little undersized but he is coming into his own,” Bennett said.

Desert Pines, which has reached the playoffs in four of the last five season, is expected to make another run. Returning to the playoffs, however, will be easier said than done in a balanced Northeast Division, Bennett said.

“Until you beat the team on the hillside, and that’s Las Vegas, you haven’t arrived,” Bennett said. “Canyon Springs has emerged, too. We have to take it one game as a time.”

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