Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 | 12:10 p.m.
After reaching the large-school state championship game in 2009, the Del Sol High football team has one playoff appearance in the past four seasons.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer return to the studio to discuss all of Las Vegas' high school football teams a week before the start of the season.
Even worse, the Dragons combined for just three wins in the past two seasons, finishing with a 1-8 record and in last place of the Southeast League in 2013.
That could change this fall.
Del Sol was the lone Sunrise Region team pegged to be reclassified to the lower Division I-A, joining a league it could instantly be competitive in. It will play against the likes of small-town Boulder City and Virgin Valley, and other Las Vegas area teams faced with similar struggles of limited player numbers and resources such as Sunrise Mountain.
“The new league present a lot of nice opportunities for us,” Del Sol coach Gary Maki said. “We have a nice senior class that we are building with. We went through some growing pains last year, but we like what we see. We can be competitive.”
While a change in competition could help solve some of Del Sol’s problems, it still has plenty of other hurdles to overcome in transforming into a playoff qualifier.
The first hurdle is reversing the negative mindset most players have from the failures of past seasons. The second is finding ways to score — they had just 104 points in nine games last year.
Del Sol’s strength will be the experience of its linemen. Seniors Jesus Olivas (6-foot-1, 255 pounds), Trevor Lytle (6 foot 1, 295-pounds) and Daniel Tyus (5 foot 11, 225-pounds) will play both ways and should present matchup problems with smaller linemen in the Division I-A.
“For Del Sol, it all starts with the line,” Lytle said. “We have to get the linemen together and keep pushing forward.”
Defensively, after giving up more than 300 points last season, Maki changed defensive coordinators and formations. They’ll operate out of 3-5 — three linemen and five linebackers — to take advantage of team quickness at linebacker and in the secondary.
If the players develop as expected, Del Sol will be in position to challenge for the playoffs.
“The tradition never leaves,” Maki said of the state runner-up team of 2009. “We are trying to hold on to (the tradition) the best we can. Plus, try to add some new things to light the fire, and get it going again.”