Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 | 4:40 p.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.
When Brad Talich took over the Coronado High football program last season, the Cougars hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2005 and typically took last in the Southeast League.
However, he quickly worked his magic in coaching them to the state semifinals. From last place to one of the last teams left playing, Coronado’s remarkable transformation set the bar high for future seasons.
It’s just this season could be a rebuilding year for the Cougars. They graduated most of the key contributors from the playoff run and will rely on some first-time varsity players at key spots.
“We have a very, very young and inexperienced team,” Talich said. “We have to play one down at a time and keep getting better. We need to keep learning and getting better as a program.”
That process starts Saturday when Coronado opens the season at Idaho State against respected Idaho school Highland High. Having to take a long bus ride out of state to face a quality opponent is a perfect test for Talich’s young team. He knows win or lose, they’ll come out of the opener a better squad.
“It’s an ongoing process, but hopefully with these tough preseason games, we start learning more about ourselves,” the coach said.
While Coronado will be young across the board, it returns one of the area’s top wide receivers in senior Jackson Cofer. The 6-foot, 185-pound Cofer caught 37 passes for 605 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012, giving the Cougars a big-time threat in the passing game for junior quarterback John Farella, one of the first-time varsity players.
“We have some expectations to live up to,” Cofer said. “We have to go out there every Friday night, and every week in practice, and keep getting better.”
Defensively, Jackson Taylor and Marcus Hunt return on the line to give Coronado its most-experienced unit, and Aaron Cotton (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) will be a key contributor at linebacker.
“Jackson is a load,” Talich said Taylor, his 5-foot-10, 260-pound senior.
Unlike past seasons when Coronado’s youth and inexperience translated into a last-place finish, the talent appears to be there for another successful season. Sure, the bar was set pretty high last season in reaching the state semifinals, but you won’t hear Talich complain about trying to equal those expectations.
Last year’s success gives those younger players some motivation in working through their development.
“When our staff took the program over, we had a vision,” Talich said. “There is a lot to developing a good football program. We set the bar pretty high last year, but it is never over. There are things we work on day-to-day. We know it's going to be a battle (to equal the success). When just need time to continue developing these young kids.”