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August 21, 2013
The Sunset has traditionally been the most physical conference in the state and that will be a feature of the division once again when team retake the field.
In the Southwest, the biggest feature is the speed at running back as the top four teams feature players with elite speed out of the backfield. This is the year that Gortman should receive a challenge and there will be a major battle for playoff positioning.
The Northwest is the power conference with the top two team featuring the double wing. There is a large gap between the top two and the next best team. Is there a way to close the gap?
Here is a prediction on the best of the Sunset D1:
1. Palo Verde-The Panthers have a great system on offense and an outstanding front seven on defense. With the return of quarterback Parker Rost and tight end/linebacker Jake Ortale, the Panthers should be contenders for the state title.
2. Arbor View-The Aggies are loaded in the offensive and defensive backfield with impressive speed. If the line can generate a push on both sides of the ball, they can be an extremely dangerous football team.
3. Shadow Ridge-The loss of Bakari Smith is huge but the return of do-it-all athlete J Henderson should allow the Mustangs to be strong no matter where he lines up. Featuring the second best linebacking core in the league, the Mustangs are physical enough upfront to create an effective backfield on both sides of the ball.
4. Durango-The Trailblazers underachieved last season but will feature quality talent once again. Quarterback Armani Jones is a real weapon on offense if he settles down but the talent at running back is a step down from the three headed monster of last season. Defensively, the Trailblazers are effective at every level and should be able to produce.
5. Spring Valley-The Grizzlies will look to build around versatile junior Christian Tasi to form a more effective offense as well as carry the defense. The Grizzlies lack the horses to take down elite programs but they have the building blocks to be a contender a year from now..
6. Sierra Vista-Losing your top underclassman offensive weapons two years in a row makes it nearly impossible to rise to the top and the Mountain Lions will face that situation again. Running back Maliek Broady is expected to the return to lead the offense and Caleb Stiles should be productive again on defense with a more varsity ready body.
1. Bishop Gorman-The Gaels have dominated high school football in Nevada for half a decade now but is in their first major rebuild. Quarterback Randall Cunningham and running back Daniel Stewart are talents on offense with a thick line but there is a limitation on edge speed this year. The Gael defense also has a few holes to be filled by less experienced players. With an extreme early schedule, this will be the toughest challenge of the Tony Sanchez era.
2. Legacy-The Longhorns always feature a talented team and Casey Hughes could prove to be the best overall player in the state this season. With a physical linebacking unit and another potential weapon in Nieamiah Lane, the Longhorns can challenge the Gaels for supremacy this season.
3. Centennial-The Bulldogs lost a ton of talent from last year's team but should be able to lean on the legs of big play running back Lantz Worthington. With Haikeem Arnold and thumper Toby Lopez leading the defense, the Bulldogs won't be a pushover team with the ability to surprise.
4. Bonanza-The Bengals were truly bad last season but they were also extremely young across the board. Jayveon Taylor is one of the most dangerous offensive player in the city with the ability to be in the endzone in a blink. If a more mature team equals a stronger defense, this could be the strongest division in the state this season.
5. Desert OasisRichie Stemmetti steps into the spotlight for a Rattler team that has gotten young in a hurry. With some nice size upfront and speedy backfield on both sides of the ball, look for the Rattlers to be a strong darkhorse in the division race.
6. Cimarron-The Spartans pride the program on physicality but they will need the legs of darting running back Mike Barnson to create big plays on offense. Dallas Cervantes should be the face of the team this season and defensive lineman Jeffrey Prince is a potential star on defense.