Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 | 1:59 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer celebrate the return of football season with an hour-long podcast diving into anything and everything regarding local high schools. They also look back on the victories by Bishop Gorman and Moapa Valley in the Sollenberger Classic and finish with week one picks.
When the Rancho High football team gathered for its first workouts this spring, coach Elvin Dick had a simple message for his players.
He reminded them of their Sunrise quarterfinal playoff loss to Liberty last fall — a game where Liberty physically dominated from start to finish.
“The kids took it hard when I told them we got beat last spring and summer when we weren’t lifting,” Dick said. “(This year), the kids have really dedicated themselves to strength and conditioning. We are still not the size of Liberty, but we have as strong and well-shaped of a team as I’ve had at Rancho.”
And they also have one of the best quarterbacks in the Northeast Division.
Senior William Gosse-Gardet passed for 1,436 yards and 13 touchdowns, and rushed for another 10 touchdowns last fall in leading the Rams to the No. 4 seed from the Northeast Division in the playoffs.
“He is our leader. He is our guy,” Dick said. “Whatever success we have will go through him. We know he’s up to the challenge because the offense will go as he goes.”
Cody Hafen (5-foot-7, 170-pounds) will be a two-way starter at running back and safety for the Rams, Joel Veherer (6-foot-2, 175-pounds) is back at wide receiver after suffering a season-ending ankle injury last year and senior center Mark Sanchez will anchor the line
Defensively, linebackers Casey Holmes (5-foot-10, 195-pounds), Derick Eliason (5-foot-9, 170-pounds) and Melvin Robinson (5-foot-11, 195-pounds) will be Rancho’s key players. “(Holmes) is a stud,” Dick said.
While Rancho hasn’t been able to crack the top of the Northeast Division is recent years, Dick is optimistic this year can be different. Several of his seniors were part of Rancho’s one-loss junior varsity team two years ago.
“The kids, they believe and they want to win,” the coach said. “Our starting group is pretty good. If we can avoid injury, I know we have a team that could turn some heads.”