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September 2, 2014

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high school football:

New Rancho coach reminding players of rivalry game tradition

Rams, which haven’t beat Las Vegas in 16 years in the “Bone Game,” have fresh outlook on importance of state’s most significant rivalry

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Rancho football players Ezekiel Collins, Xavier Taylor, Tommy Perkins, Liam McIntyre and Max Cruz Thursday, July 26, 2012.

Rancho Coach Perryn Hale

Rancho High coach Perryn Hale talks about the team's upcoming 2012 football season

Northeast League

Canyon Springs football players Stephone Revels, Fabian Leos and A.J. Cooper 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.

Perryn Hale was cleaning out the Rancho High football program’s equipment room last spring during his first week as the Rams’ coach when he stumbled upon an empty glass box buried in the corner.

After a little research, he learned the box was an important part of Nevada high school football history. The box is used by Rancho to store the bronzed bone from the “Bone Game” rivalry with Las Vegas High, which is one of state’s most storied and long-standing rivalry games.

Rancho hasn’t had to use the glass box in more than a decade, suffering through a 16-year losing streak to Las Vegas. That’s something Hale plans on changing.

He cleaned off the box and keeps it on a table in the locker room to help motivate the players. And, one day this summer when they were struggling through offseason conditioning, he decided to bring the box onto the field.

“It was a very emotional moment for the kids,” Hale said. “It’s one thing to talk about beating Las Vegas. But by keeping the box in the back of the equipment room, the kids forget about what they are playing for. It was amazing. The whole attitude at practice changed. It makes them hungry to fill that box back up again.”

Rancho, which opens the season Friday by hosting Basic, will have its chance for redemption Oct. 5 against Las Vegas. Hale said his 23-player senior class has just four wins during their careers, including three victories last year. The coach feels this year, and not just in the rivalry game with Las Vegas, could be different.

“We’ll play the underdog role a lot this year,” Hale said. “But we have a lot of bright spots. I really believe we are going to surprise some people.”

Hale plans on starting eight players on both sides of the ball, including running back and defensive back Tommy Perkins (5-foot-8, 160-pounds). Perkins, who also wrestles and runs track for Rancho, will have more than his share of opportunities to be an impact player.

“He’s our emotional leader. He does it all,” Hale said. “The kid is an explosive running back for his size. He’ll get you 7 or 8 yards a pop each time he touches the ball.”

Max Cruz (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), who had seven sacks last year, will be a leader defensively at defensive end. He’ll double offensively at wide receiver, tight end or even fullback depending on the play. Liam McIntyre will be counted on to make big plays from his linebacker position and is expected make several tackles.

Xavier Taylor will play defensive end and wide receiver, and Ezekiel Collins at 6-foot-1, 190-pounds will be tough for opposing defenses to tackle as one of Rancho’s primary running backs.

With so many players having major roles in both the offense and the defense, Hale knows he is an injury away from a significant personnel problem. But, he’s quick to point out, most every other team has the same worry.

He dressed 19 players for a scrimmage against Mojave in August and feels his players have the stamina to play every down.

“I actually felt we got stronger as the game went on,” Hale said.

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

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