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August 3, 2015

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high school football :

Cheyenne’s state semifinal test involves surviving long travel, unfamiliar weather

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Cheyenne football players Darius Gantt, Devin Tatum and Dylan Power Thursday, July 26, 2012.

Prep Sports Now

Projecting the rest of the playoffs

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Bishop Gorman vs. Palo Verde. Arbor View vs. Centennial. The start of the Sunrise region playoffs. The semifinals of the Division 1A playoffs. It's a packed week of high school football for Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer to break down on this episode of Prep Sports Now.

Winning a state championship isn’t supposed to be a walk in the park. It’s supposed to be hard and full of challenges.

And for the Cheyenne High School football team, that will definitely be the case.

The odds are stacked against the Desert Shields as they enter a Division I-A semifinal contest against host Truckee (Calif.) on Saturday. Between the potential weather issues, a long bus ride and playing a perennial power, Cheyenne coach David Cochran is experiencing firsthand why so many people say, “southern teams who travel north don’t do well.”

“The way the schedule was set up with the district is not conducive to success,” Cochran said. “A lot of things go into it, which I understand. It’s still an obstacle.”

The Desert Shields are scheduled to leave Friday morning for a 10-hour bus ride from the North Las Vegas school to their hotel in Sparks. They plan on squeezing in a short practice session before returning to their hotel — which is an hour away from Truckee High, a school near the Nevada-California border that competes in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

Cochran preferred to leave town at midnight Friday, allowing players to sleep for most of the 10-hour drive and help them get acclimated to their surroundings faster.

“We really have little say in when we can leave and where we stay,” Cochran said.

Another challenge the Desert Shields (9-2) face is the potential of playing in snow.

Most — if not all — of the players haven’t had the opportunity to play in a cold-weather game. When their season opened Aug. 23, temperatures were in the triple-digits, and although the temperature in the valley can drop to near freezing, it rarely brings snow.

Cheyenne football coach David Cochran Thursday, July 26, 2012.

Cheyenne football coach David Cochran Thursday, July 26, 2012.

Still, the Desert Shields’ offense, featuring running back Myloe Lewis, is built for that kind of weather. And playing football in the snow isn’t a big deal to Cochran, who grew up in the Midwest.

The reactions to playing with snowflakes falling range from excitement to anxiety about the potential to be ill-equipped for such a contest.

“The kids are back and forth with it,” Cochran said. “We, as a coaching staff, are telling them to bring their long sleeves and undergarments.”

As if the off-the-field issues weren’t enough, the Desert Shields have been given the task of playing one of the NIAA’s top programs, in any classification.

Truckee (9-1) has appeared in four consecutive state championship games, winning three of them. The Wolverines have gone 66-4 in the past six seasons and have won 57 of their last 58.

“They believe in their program and believe in what they can do,” Cochran said. “As you go in, you have to respect what they do.”

Cochran remains confident that his team, which dropped to Division I-A this season from the large-school classification and is preparing to face a northern team for the first time, can reach the title game.

“My kids are focused and locked in to the task at hand,” Cochran said. “They’re more mature than my previous teams.”

The game will be broadcast at truckeetahoeradio.com.

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or paul.santos@lasvegassun.com. Follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/pauliedelos.

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