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November 21, 2014

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high school football:

Western players receive inspiration from one of the program’s former stars

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Sam Morris

Western High School football players Coalton Feliciano, Reggie Williams and Marshall Taylor.

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The days of Lawrence Guy and Phillip Payne dominating the opposition for the Western High football team are long gone.

But they are not forgotten.

Guy, a rookie with the Green Bay Packers, returned this offseason to speak with players following a training session. And when he spoke, they listened.

In addition to excelling on the gridiron, Guy also took care of business in the classroom. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia but didn’t let the learning disabilities stop his dreams of pursuing a college degree at Arizona State.

“It was neat for the kids to see that you can make it from Western if you want,” coach Fernando Carmona said.

During the NFL lockout, Guy spent time at Western running bleachers to stay in shape. “He busted his ass. It was great for the kids to see a Warrior doing that,” Carmona said.

The coach is equally pleased with the effort of his athletes in the offseason. Despite only having 25 players on the roster, Carmona is optimistic he has the right blend of talent and hard workers to compete for a playoff spot in the balanced Southwest Division.

Western has had just six wins in the three years since Guy's and Payne’s senior year, when they advanced to the Sunset Regional semifinals. Payne is a star wide receiver at UNLV.

“We definitely think we can get into the playoffs. The kids have busted their butts all summer,” Carmona said.

Several of Western’s players will line up on both offense and defense, including seniors Reggie Williams and Jamaree Walker. They each play running back and linebacker. “They are our big guns on both sides of the ball,” Walker said.

On the line, senior Marshall Taylor (6-foot-3, 310 pounds) is a three-year starter and the Warriors' top college prospect.

This is Carmona’s third year at the helm of the program. While they have won only four games in his tenure, the strides they’ve made off the field have been significant. For instance, they have new uniforms this fall for the first time in almost a decade.

“The biggest difference is the consistency (the coaches) have displayed,” Carmona said. “We’ve provided a safe haven for them. A lot of the kids are buying into the program.”

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