Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Spring Valley finally will shed its growing pains this season.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer return to the studio to discuss all of Las Vegas' high school football teams a week before the start of the season.
The Grizzlies slogged through a pair of three-win seasons the past two years, relying primarily on underclassmen. The sophomores thrown into the wild in 2012 have come out with a chiseled resolve, ready to carve their history as seniors.
“This will be our third year together,” said senior tight end and defensive end Drazen Tojic. “I feel like that will be our strength — our core group that we’ve had for so long.”
What perfect timing to complete the maturation process. Spring Valley simultaneously gets the move it’s hoped for the past couple years with relocation to the Division 1A Sunset division.
It’s a league where the Grizzlies belong, where their schedule won’t be compromised of games against teams with far more resources and numbers.
“We’re very excited about being in the new league and getting to a point where we can compete in a week-in, week-out basis,” Spring Valley coach Marcus Teal said.
Spring Valley is wholly unfamiliar with almost its entire schedule, though the team did get one inadvertent taste of its new home early last season. They lost to Mojave — whom some consider this year’s favorite in the division — 27-6 in the second game of the year.
The two teams meet near the midway point of this season, on Oct. 2 at Mojave.
“I’m not sure there’s a game we have to win to get over the hump, but I feel like us and Mojave will be a pretty good game,” Tojic said.
Tojic is part of a group of skill players on offense that all return together. The Grizzlies have their leading passer, senior quarterback Christian Tasi; leading rusher, senior E.J. Wilbert; and leading receiver, senior Mycah Beonza, back.
Depth is still a concern, but if Spring Valley stays healthy, it will have plenty ways to score.
“Just got to keep working hard,” senior offensive and defensive lineman Shiloh Fao said. “Just play our heart out.”
Teal is even more excited about the defensive side of the ball. Spring Valley made strides last year but might be poised for a bigger jump in 2014.
An experienced set of linebackers could lead the transition.
“With our defense, we’re going to try to be a little more aggressive now,” Teal said. “Last year, I think at times we were passive just from the teams we played. So we’re going to try to be a lot more aggressive and attacking the football.”
They might not know exactly what to expect from their new opponents until getting on the field, but that’s part of the fun.
“We’ve looked at the games against the teams we’re playing and know we have a lot of work ahead of us with this league and being the new kids on the block, so to say,” Teal said.