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April 18, 2014

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High school football:

Arbor View High ready to get league-title defense underway

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Arbor View High football players (from left) Jacob Speaks, Devon Turner and Anthony Smith before the 2013 season.

Northwest League — 2013

Palo Verde High football players (from left) Sean Dennis, Josh Hamilton and Parker Rost before the 2013 season. Launch slideshow »

Arbor View High coach Dan Barson can’t say whether this late start to the season will be a positive or a negative for his team.

“This is a new experience for me,” Barson said. “I don’t know.”

Barson said this is his 22nd year coaching and the first time he’ll get nearly two weeks into September before lining up against another team for real. The Aggies have gone through some scrimmages and with the same double-wing attack they’ve had the past eight years, there’s not much more for the kids to learn in practice at this stage.

“You can do it in a scrimmage all you want, it’s not a Friday night,” Barson said. “It’s a different deal.”

Or a Thursday night, like tonight when Arbor View finally gets its season underway against Centennial High, which already has one game under its belt. Most coaches feel the biggest progression a team makes is from Week 1 to Week 2, so while Centennial has the chance to make that jump Arbor View will try to avoid the first-game mistakes like turnovers and penalties that can derail a game.

Barson said they spent extra time on things like the kicking game during scrimmages to make sure everyone knew what to do and what to expect. So that’s how they’re preparing overall, but what will the Aggies do to overcome the loss of Elijah George, an excellent offensive lineman who committed to Oregon?

That’s a tougher question, one that probably won’t be answered until several weeks into the season. George was key to the Aggies’ Sunrise Northwest League title courtesy of its first-ever victory against Palo Verde High. While he may be gone, senior running back Jacob Speaks said that doesn’t mean things have to change.

“We have the same goals, going after the same things,” Speaks said.

That showdown with league-favorite Palo Verde is looming large at the end of the schedule. In order to get there, though, Arbor View has to actually start playing.

“As best you can we try to go one game at a time, and try not to look forward to Palo,” Barson said. “We’ve got a long way to go before that. Our first four games, we’re battling. But we’ve got Centennial first and we’re not overlooking that.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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