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high school football:

Coronado hoping to take the next step in its progression

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Coronado football players Brendan Larsen, Jason Warren and Colton Coss Thursday, July 26, 2012.

Coronado Coach Brad Talich

Coronado coach Brad Talich talks about the upcoming 2012 high school football season

Southeast League

Basic football players Anthony Owens, Mike Roberts and Ian Bates Thursday, July 26, 2012. Launch slideshow »
Prep Sports Now

Are Centennial, Canyon Springs in the elite?

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There are topics aplenty on this week's episode after an eventful slate of games. Centennial and Canyon Springs, most notably, presented arguments for being included with the best teams in town. Are Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer buying the Bulldogs and Pioneers? Listen in on the debate, a discussion on touchdown celebrations and a breakdown of this week's games.

The improvements the Coronado High football team made toward the end of last season were obvious.

Instead of suffering ugly defeats in the tough Southeast League, the Cougars were more than competitive in giving several perennial playoff qualifiers a competitive game.

While those improvements give the players confidence heading into this season, first-year head coach Brad Talich isn’t naive to the obvious: Coronado hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2005 and typically finishes last in the Southeast League.

“We have to keep getting better. This program here still hasn’t proven anything,” Talich said. “They proved they can beat Chaparral or Sunrise Mountain. They haven’t proved they can beat a team (such as) Foothill. Yes, we made strides last year. But until we clear those barriers and start winning games, they have everything to prove.”

Coronado hung tough with Foothill in a 10-6 loss and gave two-time defending Sunrise champion Liberty a minor scare before losing, 16-10. The Cougars’ most impressive performance was shutting out Del Sol for a 17-0 win.

To take the next step, Coronado must find ways to score more points. Last year, they averaged just 9.6 points per game in league contests and were shut out twice.

So, during most offseason workouts, Talich’s sole focus was working on developing the offense. He even had a group of college coaches visit for an offense-only clinic.

“We are hoping to be better on offense because we have put a lot of time into it,” Talich said. “We have been practicing hard just like everyone else. Our main focus has been the offense. That’s where we are putting our time in. Hopefully, the defense doesn’t falter because of that.”

Coronado’s offense will be led by four-year varsity performer Cody Mucino, who had just three touchdowns last year after being injured. Depending on the play, Mucino will line up at wide receiver or in the backfield.

Brock Taeubel, at wide receiver, and Derrick Keller, at running back and quarterback, will also be counted on for big plays. Up front, center Colton Coss is a returning starter and one of the team’s leaders.

Don’t expect the Coronado defense, which returns just five starters, to resemble the one from last year.

Talich, who was the defensive coordinator last year, says the strength will be at linebacker and defensive back. However, the defensive line and safeties still are a work in progress.

Linebacker Jason Warren, who was one of the Cougars’ top tacklers last year, will be the leader of the defense and one of Coronado’s top overall players.

“All of the college coaches ask about him when they stop by,” Talich said of Warren.

The defensive line will be anchored by senior Brendan Larsen (6-foot-1, 220 pounds), a key contributor last year on both sides of the ball. The defensive backs will be led by Kieran Eissler, one of the nation’s top lacrosse players in his age group, who is verbally committed to Johns Hopkins to play lacrosse.

“(Kieran) is a pretty good corner. That’s a pretty special kid,” Talich said.

Last year, Coronado finished with a 4-5 overall record — its best mark since 2007. This year, they could finally get over the .500 barrier.

“We’ll have a better answer (on the improvements) once we get out there and play,” Talich said.

Coronado opens the season at 8 p.m. Thursday against host Silverado.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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