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October 20, 2014

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Northwest Division Preview:

Cheyenne needs to improve defense to bounce back

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Sam Morris

Cheyenne High School football players Kenneth Counts III, Tyler Spight and Alex Wojtowicz.

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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.

The way Cheyenne senior running back Tyler Spight feels headed into this football season is representative of the attitude carried by his whole team.

Spight came on strong at the end of last year as an electrifying rusher, gaining more than 200 yards in a game on multiple occasions. But according to Cheyenne coach David Cochran, he received shockingly little attention for it.

“He didn’t get voted to any All Division teams or anything like that,” Cochran said. “So, he feels like he’s got something to prove.”

Just like the rest of the Desert Shields. Cheyenne missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade last season after struggling its way to a 4-5 campaign.

Spight and the offense excelled for the most part, as they put up 28 points per game. The problems came on defense, where opponents scored an average of 32 points against Cheyenne.

That’s a fact that’s bothered Cochran for the past nine months, which he’s spent thinking about how to fix it.

“We’ve changed some things up and I hope we get better,” Cochran said. “To be honest, we couldn’t be much worse. We want to get back to that Cheyenne-style of physical football.”

Cochran brought in a few new defensive assistants, who he said had enlivened the team. He’s also ditched the Bear formation Cheyenne used defensively for most of last year.

Cheyenne will continue tinkering with its defensive formula until the desired results emerge. There’s reason to believe that could happen right away with some of the players the Desert Shields return.

Senior Kenneth Counts is one of the most athletic defensive backs in the valley and should be able to use his speed to prevent any big plays. Up front, Cheyenne will lean on 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior Alex Wojtowicz and 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior Dylan Power to clog running lanes.

Dylan Power’s older brother, Tyler, will start at quarterback. The 6-foot-6 Tyler Powers, who Cochran said colleges were looking at because of his size, beat out last year’s starter, Bakari Smith, in preseason camp for the opportunity.

“It was a competition and he won it, so we’re going to start with him and see what he can do,” Cochran said. “Bakari Smith could still play, and he’s got the experience. It’s nice to have that option.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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