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July 25, 2014

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high school football:

Chaparral players cherish ‘Cleat Game’ victory, solid start to season

Antonio Thomas’ near 200-yard rushing day and two touchdowns helps Chaparral end three-game skid against Eldorado

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Leila Navidi

Chaparral players celebrate defeating Eldorado 52-14 in the Cleat Game at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas on Friday, September 14.

The Cleat Game 2012

Chaparral players celebrate defeating Eldorado 52-14 in the Cleat Game at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas on Friday, September 14. Launch slideshow »
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer bring all the ranting and raving any Southern Nevada high school football fan could ever want on the fourth episode of this year's podcast. Brewer further fuels his detractors at Centennial and predicts a lopsided victory in favor of Bishop Gorman. Does Keefer agree? Listen to find out.

Chaparral High football coach Bill Froman knew winning the “Cleat Game” rivalry against Eldorado would be a big deal.

He just didn’t realize how emotional his players would become when they finally got their hands on the bronzed cleat NFL great Merlin Olsen donated to the rivalry in the 1970s.

Chaparral’s Antonio Thomas rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries in leading the Cowboys to a 52-14 win, snapping a three-game losing streak in the series and tripling Chaparral’s win total from the past three years at 3-1 overall.

The players rushed the field as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Soon they were taking turns hoisting the cleat, including several players with tears in their eyes. They even were presented hats specially made for winning the game.

“It was great. Just wonderful. What a lot of fun,” Froman said. “I’m so happy for our kids. This is something they’ve worked so hard for.”

Two years ago, Chaparral lost by one point in overtime. Last year, the Cowboys led at the half but couldn’t hang on in a tough loss.

In addition to struggling against Eldorado, Chaparral won just one game the last three years. Friday, all of that was erased.

“The most significant part for me is that we are stringing together a few wins,” Froman said. “We are starting to turn the corner and, maybe, families will start sending their kids to Chap again. That’s what turns me on.

“It’s a wonderful school that everyone (in Las Vegas) has forgotten about,” he said. “It’s a great place to send your kid. If we keep winning some football games, you see things changing.”

Chaparral quarterback Jason Johnson had 11 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown, and passed for 137 yards with two scoring strikes to Patrick Savoy. Tyquan Anderson added a 70-yard touchdown run in also rushing for more than 100 yards.

Defensively, freshman Richard Hernandez led Chaparral with nine tackles. Winning the “Cleat Game” as a freshman gives Froman, a second-year coach, something to build on for future seasons.

“Our cupboard is far from bare over here,” he said.

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

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