Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 | 2:09 p.m.
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Prep Sports Now returns from hibernation just in time for football season. Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer go through every league and discuss every team in town, giving predictions along and players to watch along the way.
Second-year Western High football coach Donnie Davis kept it simple when asked what it would take for his team to make the postseason.
“Win!!!” he wrote, adding exclamation points for extra emphasis.
As simple as it sounds, there’s a lot more to it, especially for a team that went 0-9 in 2012 and lost by an average of 35 points.
“We’re looking to build on what we built last year,” Davis said. “We want to get better, learn how to win and stay together as a family.”
Western has one victory in the past three seasons and holds the longest losing streak in Southern Nevada at 18 games. The last Western win was Nov. 5, 2010, against Pahrump Valley as part of a three-win season.
But they took a significant step in the right direction in the offseason by receiving a private donation to help upgrade the program, paying for new weight room equipment, field equipment, shoulder pads and helmets, and two-sets of uniforms.
Davis suspects that will help spike participation — last year, they didn’t field lower-level teams.
“All of this brand-new stuff, I would be in the grave before I’d be able to save for this,” Davis told the Sun in June.“It was a godsend. I can’t tell you how thankful we are.”
Still, Davis knows it will be an uphill battle.
He returns only a handful of seniors — a group that includes running back Xerexes Tachiquin, fullback and linebacker Mark Guerrero and wide receiver and safety Quayjon Walker — and will be fielding a team of mostly sophomores and juniors. That hasn’t stopped Davis from thinking that his team isn’t capable of making a run at the postseason.
“We’re a young team,” Davis said. “Right now, we’re focusing on getting better, and trying to win one game at a time and make the playoffs.”
A fresh coat of paint and a fresh perspective are among the changes being made around Western High School.
Western is one of five turnaround schools that missed the marks set by No Child Left Behind and now faces the challenge of increasing student achievement.
The school is the third oldest in the district and its campus lies near Decatur Boulevard and Veterans Memorial Highway. The majority of students attending Western are minorities from disadvantaged homes. Western is known for having a rough past, but students are optimistic about the future of their school.
Change is apparent according to students interviewed in September.
“When I was in eighth grade, I was told I was going to get shot or stabbed when I came to Western,” said senior Kole Yanez, 17. “That might have been true 15 years ago, but now, you don’t see that here.”
Rules are tightly enforced on campus. The school keeps a strict dress code policy and cell phone use during class time is not permitted.
Halls are designated by grade level giving students a sense of ownership and community. Pride is clearly visible at pep rallies and sporting events. The newfound pride might just be he medicine needed to alleviate the 8 percent dropout rate, the highest in the district.
“It’s like building a house. You need a strong foundation,” said Neddy Alvarez, principal. “You need those strong relationships. When kids know we care about them, the learning will take place.”
- Year built:
- Principal (Year Hired):
- Neddy Alvarez (2008)
- Mission Statement:
- “The mission of Western High School is to promote scholarship, encourage good citizenship, and embrace our cultural diversity.”
- Approximately 2,400
- Notable alumni:
- Frank Hawkins, former NFL player
Capt. Nicole Malachowski, first female Thunderbird
Ronnie Vannucci, drummer of The Killers
Tom Collins, Clark County commissioner
- School Report Card:
Compiled by Gregan Wingert