Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer dish on all things Las Vegas high school football again this week. Among the debates, other than the usual picks segment, are whether it's acceptable for an NFL player to introduce his high school alma mater instead of his college.
And, in a true statement of Las Vegas’ domination of the series, none of those players were born the last time Rancho won a game in the rivalry.
The trend continued Friday night with host Las Vegas using three touchdowns from Vince Castro and never being challenged in a 45-0 victory for their 17th straight win against Rancho.
The teams, which have played each other for more than 50 years, started competing for the bone in the 1970s when a butcher donated a cow bone to the rivalry. It’s now bronzed. And, at least judging by Friday’s domination, could be permanently stored at Las Vegas.
“This is always an important game,” said Castro, who scored what turned out to be the winning touchdown on a 24-yard scoring strike from Trevor Swenson 91 seconds into the game. “Coach stresses this more than the playoffs.”
While you could easily argue the rivalry has lost its luster because of Las Vegas’ lopsided victory margins, that’s far from the truth, Wildcats coach James Thurman said.
Friday’s game was a perfect example.
The bleachers on both sides were packed and cars were forced to park in the adjacent neighborhoods across the road from the stadium. It was also the Wildcats’ homecoming game, which included members of their 2001 state championship team — players proudly showed off their state rings to the current team — attending the game. The home bleachers were so crowded, the Las Vegas band played from behind the end zone the entire game.
Earlier in the day, Thurman’s phone was flooded with good-luck text messages from former players and coaches, including from former coaches Kris Cinkovich and Chris Faircloth — they each led Las Vegas to a recent state title.
“It means as much to the alumni as it does to the kids, and we preach that to them,” Thurman said. “They know the tradition has gotten them this far. Now they have to continue it.”
Added Castro: “It’s always a good experience having the alumni come out and watch us keep the bone home.”
The Las Vegas defense, with those six sophomores playing in their first “Bone Game,” was relentless from start to finish. They forced Rancho into incomplete passes on its first six plays from scrimmage, blocked two punts and limited Rancho to about 60 yards of offense.
More important for Thurman, those younger plays helped continue a winning tradition. Thurman, who's coached at the school since the mid-1990s, made sure everyone in his program knew this game was the most significant of the season.
“It doesn’t matter if (Rancho) is 6-0 or 0-6, this still means a lot to our kids,” he said.
Castro had touchdown runs of 41 and 9 yards to go along with his scoring reception from Swenson, who also had a 3-yard touchdown run in helping Las Vegas lead 35-0 at halftime. Elias Miller and Andrew Moreland had touchdown runs for the Wildcats, and Jay Mattox booted a 37-yard field goal.
Las Vegas (4-1, 1-0 Northeast) won’t have much time to enjoy the win. It hosts Green Valley High next week in a crucial league game.