Friday, Aug. 26, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
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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.
No team in Las Vegas returns more battle-tested players than Desert Oasis.
The Diamondbacks, who have made the playoffs in each of the last two years, have 16 starters back — eight on offense and eight on defense. Included in the group is a majority of the top performers from last year’s team that finished second in the Southwest Division.
“We’ve seen the benefits of returning a lot of kids,” coach Scott Staudinger said. “Compared to this point last year, we are 100 percent happier. We always can be better, but I think we’re further along and better overall.”
Although Staudinger only took over as the head coach earlier this summer, he’s served on the Desert Oasis staff for three years. He’s known the core of this year’s team since they were underclassmen.
He’s witnessed their progression first hand and in some cases, it’s left him amazed. Take senior Trevon Barnes, for example, who will switch from quarterback to tailback this season.
“Trevon is a kid who has probably put in the hardest amount of work,” Staudinger said. “He’s come the furthest. Through hard work, he’s made himself a complete player. He’s our do-everything guy.”
Barnes gained eight yards per carry last year running the show in the Diamondbacks option offense. Staudinger has changed the offense to where the team will mostly run out of the I-formation.
Joining Barnes in a crowded backfield are Brandon Andrews and Devin Fortenberry. Andrews is an elusive back who transferred to Desert Oasis for the last six games of 2010 and ran for more than 600 yards. Fortenberry is a bruising fullback who compiled more than 1,000 yards a season ago.
If Barnes is Desert Oasis’ do-everything player, then Kyle Henry is its tackle-everything player. Henry led the city in tackles last season.
“Kyle Henry is just a phenomenally hard worker,” Staudinger said. “It’s paid off for him for the last couple years.”
Alongside Henry at linebacker is fellow senior leader Jonah Montenegro. He’s yet another member of the Diamondbacks who has played in his share of significant games.
“We finally have guys who have been around in the program for all four years,” Staudinger said. “I’m pretty happy to be around those guys and see how long they’ve come.”