Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer look ahead to another week of high school football and detail why the Northwest division appears to be the strongest in town. Palo Verde, Arbor View, Centennial, Cimarron and Cheyenne have all looked impressive in the early season.
Don’t let the final score fool you.
The Dragons had to overcome numerous penalties (eight in the first half alone) that halted scoring drives, their quarterback fumbled a snap on the goal line going in for a touchdown and their holder consistently struggled getting the ball down on extra points.
But despite only leading 9-0 at halftime, the Dragons showed why they are widely considered one of Southern Nevada’s top teams in the second half. Their 31-point onslaught included two returned kicks for touchdowns, an interception return for another score and aggressive defensive play that eventually wore out an overmatched Eldorado squad.
“In the first half, I don’t know how many penalties we had, but we had to have had a zillion,” Del Sol coach Preston Goroff said. “It stopped every drive we had. We played on their side of the field the whole half, but we couldn’t get (any points).”
Del Sol forced four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions from Dwanye Kirkland. He returned the second interception 31 yards for a touchdown and 34-6 advantage with 7:30 remaining.
Senior Chris Marshall started the second-half scoring by returning a punt 77 yards for a touchdown three minutes into the half for a 15-0 Del Sol lead.
After Eldorado scored on a 50-yard touchdown reception from Javen Nihipali, Del Sol wasted no time in responding when Tremar Pike returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. Del Sol scored 25 unanswered points to close the game.
“We kind of overlooked them. We came out more ready in the second half,” said Marshall, who added a short scoring run in the first half and 108 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Marshall was far from a one-man show.
“If you look at Del Sol, it’s almost like pick your poison,” Eldorado coach Vernon Brown said. “Everyone talks about Marshall, and rightfully so, but they have some more weapons over there, too. That score, 40-6, is embarrassing. We got our butts whipped.”
With a capable passer in Kirschbaum under center, it appears Del Sol’s offense will be more balanced this fall. Typically, they are heavy with the run — a strategy they don’t have the size up front to rely on this year, Goroff said.
“I don’t think we have the team where we can smash people this year,” Goroff said. “I’m not married to any offense. Whatever we can move the ball with is what we will do. You will see some spread stuff. We are going to try to get the ball in the hands of some of our guys.”