Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 | 2 a.m.
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Prep Sports Now returns from hibernation just in time for football season. Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer go through every league and discuss every team in town, giving predictions along and players to watch along the way.
Expectations are so high for the Green Valley football team, some believe they are the favorites to win the Sunrise Region and not three-time defending region champ Liberty.
Green Valley coach Brian Castro isn’t buying into that notion.
“It’s not our focus. We’re focused on what we’re doing on the practice field and what to do to get better,” Castro said. “The kids know there is a little bit of buzz out there. We’re not going to sneak up on anybody. This year, people kind of know that we’re here and we’re definitely expecting to get everyone’s best efforts.”
Christian Lopez, a junior, returns for another season under center for an offense that averaged 38.6 points per game in 2012, and it’s going a long way to feed into the “buzz” surrounding the Gators.
He had a stellar sophomore campaign, completing 154 of 247 passes for 2,081 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushing for 503 yards and 14 touchdowns in leading Green Valley to the Northeast League title.
Despite having a tremendous season in 2012, the one thing that stands out in Lopez’s mind is how last season ended on a sour note.
Lopez had his worst performance in the Sunrise Regional semifinals, when he went 9-for-17 for 165 yards with two touchdowns in being upset by Coronado.
“I go over (the film from the Coronado game) almost every week now,” he said. “Coach tells me to go over it and find out what I did wrong. I’m building off it right now. It’s going to be a lot better this year.”
Lopez won’t have to do it alone either.
At receiver, Lopez has Markus Varner, a preseason All-City selection, Gio Hernandez, Kyler Chavez and Conor Perkins. Arbor View-transfer Larry Norman and Albert Lake are expected to see time at running back.
Add in Oregon commit Tyrell Crosby and veteran center Preston Quirt anchoring the line, and it’s a unit with the potential to score at will.
“We have the same mindset (from last year) to work hard,” Lopez said. “It is not about one player or one star. It’s about a unit and working together.”
While the offense gets a lot of attention, the defense has some questions to be answered, after seeing most of their defensive starters graduate.
The unit took another major hit when it lost linebacker Micah Klorman to a torn ACL during camp.
“It’s an unfortunate injury,” Castro said. “We’re going to miss (Micah), and really miss his leadership. He was one of those guys we were going to count on.”
Even though the defense has its questions, Castro and his team are still considered one of the best in the area.
Now whether they are one of the best will be answered in the games to come.
“We have to go out on Friday nights and prove it,” Castro said, understanding there is a difference between expectation and reality.