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July 28, 2014

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Northwest Division Preview:

Newfound depth has hopes high at Shadow Ridge

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Sam Morris

Shadow Ridge High School football players Stephen Bradley and Alex Wise.

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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.

Shadow Ridge is reaping one unintended benefit from the four-game winning streak it went on at the end of last season to make the playoffs.

First-year coach Frank Tousa has seen more players entering the program. The only logical expectation is that athletes on campus witnessed last year’s success first hand and wanted to become involved.

“I think that’s a big part of it,” Tousa said. “I think we’re trying to build the mindset that there’s something you can achieve out here.”

The influx of talent has resulted in a depth chart that Tousa’s confident with. Whereas Tousa figured a few months ago the team would be devastated if someone like junior receiver Alex Wise or junior linebacker Stephen Bradley missed a game with injury, he now knows there’s someone ready behind them.

The team is especially deep at linebacker and receiver.

“We feel comfortable with a lot of different kids playing,” Tousa said. “You don’t have to rely on one person to exceed.”

Shadow Ridge expects to win the field position battle throughout the season. That’s a luxury of having James Grigsby, one of the best kickers and punters in the state.

Grigsby also plays receiver and linebacker, but it's special teams that will likely deliver him to a college.

“He’s gone to a lot of camps for kicking,” Tousa said. “He’s made 60-yard field goals. It’s real nice. Hopefully the other teams will have to start on the 20 every time.”

Wise and Grigsby will have a new face throwing to them in senior Justin Nehls, who transferred from Arbor View. Nehls got on the field some last year for the Aggies, as did fellow transfer Tyler Kilgore, who plays linebacker and running back.

The assumption is that with the departure of last year’s senior-laden group, Shadow Ridge was left with a bunch of unknowns. Tousa said that wasn’t exactly accurate.

“We’ve got a little more experience than you think,” he said. “We don’t have any superstars, so it’s going to be a team effort.”

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

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