Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 | 12:45 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer celebrate the start of the Sunrise Region playoffs with an all-encompassing look at the first round of games. Don't worry; they save time for discussion on Palo Verde vs. Arbor View and the Division 1-A quarterfinals
Sunrise Regional football champs
- Which team do you think will win the Sunrise Regional high school football championship?
- Liberty — 42.3%
- Green Valley — 23.4%
- Canyon Springs — 13.4%
- Las Vegas — 13.2%
- Basic — 2.9%
- Other — 2.9%
- Coronado — 1.9%
This poll is closed, see Full Results »
Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
What a difference a week makes for the Las Vegas High football team. That’s especially true for its junior quarterback, Trevor Swenson.
Swenson passed for more than 400 yards and seven touchdowns Friday, connecting four times with Aaron Zanin-Banks for scoring strikes in a 63-24 victory against host Basic in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals.
Just last week Swenson had one of his worst games of the season, struggling against Canyon Springs’ stingy defense in a humbling loss, dropping Las Vegas to the No. 3 seed and a road game to start the playoffs.
Maybe that was the wake-up call the Wildcats needed.
The offense was virtually unstoppable Friday in scoring on four of its initial five possessions against Basic, and posting at least two touchdowns in every quarter.
“We thought our tempo was not very good last week. That was a point of emphasis this week to try to increase the tempo,” Las Vegas coach James Thurman said. “It’s to our advantage to play fast.”
Swenson, who was rattled and clearly lacked confidence against Canyon Springs, executed the Wildcats’ hurry-up offense to near perfection this week. His most important throw of the night accounted for the second Las Vegas touchdown, finding Karel Byars for a 23-yard score on a fourth-down play for a 14-0 lead with three minutes to play in the third quarter.
On the next possession, he hooked up with Zanin-Banks to help Las Vegas lead by three touchdowns just 14 minutes into the game.
“I wasn’t even paying attention to how many touchdown passes I was throwing until the end of the game,” Swenson said. “I was just trying to throw it around to all of my receivers.”
Basic didn’t go down without a fight.
Antraye Johnson had touchdown runs of 8 yards in the second quarter and 52 yards in the third, and tossed a 10-yard touchdown to Chandler Kamai in keeping Basic close. The long run trimmed the Basic deficit to 35-18 with 10:31 to play in the third.
But that’s when Las Vegas pulled away, scoring the next four touchdowns in advancing to next week’s Sunrise semifinals against Green Valley. While Johnson rushed for more than 100 yards, he completed just 7 of 22 passes and was intercepted. For as effective as Swenson was, the Las Vegas defense all deserves credit for slowing down Basic’s Johnson.
“God, he is a special kid, isn’t he?” Thurman said of Johnson. “We told our kids he is going to get some yards. We just have to limit the dame. It is the old cliche: You can’t stop him, you just hope to contain him. That’s true with him. He is a special, special football player.”
And, just like that, the struggles of last week were a distant memory.
“Last week, I was a little down on myself. I can’t do that anymore,” Swenson said. “I had to play better tonight. I was playing for our seniors.”
Now, the Wildcats will need to duplicate the effort against Green Valley, the Northeast League champs. Green Valley owns a one-point win against Las Vegas in the regular season, erasing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter and winning on a game-ending field goal.
“We left there with a sour taste in our mouths,” Thurman said of the regular season meeting. “We get a chance at a second shot. A lot of times you don’t get a second shot.”