Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 | 2 a.m.
It’s no coincidence that the two best seasons in Arbor View football history came directly after the two most successful offseason programs.
Arbor View coach Dan Barnson has developed a challenging summer weightlifting and conditioning regimen for the Aggies. He asks his players to show up for 90 percent of the sessions and rewards anyone who does with a special “8” sticker on the back of their helmets.
Watch out this year; 37 of 42 players who will start the year on the varsity roster have earned the distinction.
“You can't get much better than 90-plus percent of your time,” Barnson said. “A lot of times parents will want to go out of town and the kids will want to stay. We’ve got some tough kids. They’ve bought in.”
The “8” stands for how many seconds it takes for a cowboy to successfully ride a bull, Arbor View’s logo. Like a pack of rowdy livestock, the Aggies have stomped on almost everything standing in their way the last two years.
Arbor View has beaten everyone it has faced since 2010 with the exception of Bishop Gorman and Palo Verde, the top two programs in Southern Nevada, and finished second in the Northwest Division two years in a row.
But they lose nearly 3,000 yards of offensive production this year with Roderick Eason and Steve Burns graduating and Donnie Gaskin departing from the team.
Someone must step up to fill the vacancies in Arbor View’s double-wing attack.
“We’ve got about six or seven kids, and they’re all going to get their shot,” Barnson said. “It’s a good question. We’ve gone running back by committee in the first two scrimmages.”
A couple of juniors, Anthony Smith and Devin Tuner, and a sophomore, Larry Norman, will get the first crack at the backfield positions.
“Larry Norman got pulled up and played against Gorman last year,” Barnson said. “He’s seen the Friday night lights and some of those things. A lot of the backs are pretty excited about the opportunity, and we’re excited, too.”
Norman is also known as a heavy hitter on defense. The Aggies have plenty of bodies capable of delivering big shots this year.
The offensive line is arguably the best in the city. Highly touted Elijah George, who already has scholarship offers from UNLV and Duke, is one of two three-year starters in the trenches.
Thomas Newton is the other, and he’s stepped into a leadership role. Also grouped with the lineman are physical tight end Rasheed Parks, defensive standout Steven Davis and transfer Franz Johnson.
“A lot of the kids playing offensive line are also playing d-line,” Barnson said. “We feel like we’ve got some talent there.”
Barnson’s confidence doesn’t end there, though. He’s comfortable with all the units, even the less experienced ones.
The players’ commitment this summer made it that way.
“With the whole program, we would be like 150-strong with tough kids every Monday through Thursday,” Barnson said. “That’s a lot. We put an emphasis on buying in, and they did that.”