Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008 | 12:35 a.m.
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It took Cimarron-Memorial High longer to fill in the holes in its field Friday night than it did for the Spartans to dig out of their uncharacteristic 0-2 start to the season.
Cimarron junior running back Stephen Nixon needed just four carries for a 35-yard touchdown romp, which began the Spartans’ 46-6 rout of Desert Pines at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“That was a little unusual,” Cimarron coach Rod Vollen said of a 10-minute delay to the game’s start as staff members filled in a pair of potholes inside the Cimarron 20-yard line.
“Then again, we’ve been a little slow starting ourselves this year. It was definitely nice to get back to playing Cimarron-Memorial football.”
The Spartans’ smash-mouth style returned in a big way Friday as Cimarron rushed for 214 yards and three scores in the first half alone.
Not to be outdone, the Spartans’ defense added a pair of scores on the night with an interception return and punt block.
“It really got us going to get out to that early start,” said Nixon, who finished with 120 yards on 14 carries and three trips to the end zone — including a pair of 64- and 65-yard sprints for scores.
“We would have liked to have done this the last two weeks, but we got it done this week and now we have to keep it up,” Nixon continued.
When Nixon wasn’t hurting Desert Pines with his feet, another Cimarron junior was dragging the Jags down.
Quarterback Kenneth Banks actually made the first of his damaging plays to Desert Pines on the defensive side, plucking quarterback Dalton Leilua’s pass out of the air and racing 67 yards untouched down the left sideline.
“When you have a quarterback drop back three steps and look in your direction, it’s a pretty good indication that the ball is coming your way,” said a smiling Banks.
“That was a big play, but our defense as a whole came up huge tonight.”
Banks’ second score, however, might have been the dagger for Desert Pines.
The Jaguars had just put together their most successful drive, marching 65 yards on 13 plays and scoring on Keorris Berry’s 3-yard plunge into the end zone with seven minutes, 25 seconds to go in the first half.
But Banks didn’t blink. He helped the Spartans answer with their own 17-play drive that gobbled up all but the final 14 seconds of the half and culminated with Cimarron taking a 26-6 advantage at the break when Banks sneaked in from the 1-yard line.
“I think we kind of got back in the groove this week,” Banks said. “It helped so much to get off to the fast start, but now we have to carry that over to next week.”
The Spartans certainly backed up the statement in the second half (perhaps preparation for their first league contest and homecoming game against Shadow Ridge) adding 20 more points on offense and limiting Desert Pines to just 61 total yards.
“Our first two games we didn’t play football that was representative of Cimarron-Memorial,” Vollen said. “We had a much better week of practice. We were much more physical and aggressive.
“We were excited to see how it manifested itself on the football field tonight and fortunately it worked out well for us. I’m happy for the kids that they got to enjoy this one tonight.”
Andy Samuelson is a sports writer/editor for the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com or 702-948-7837.