Las Vegas Sun

January 17, 2022

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Despite loss, Desert Oasis has high hopes

Desert Oasis

Kyle B. Hansen

The Desert Oasis football team practices in an new, but empty, stadium on Thursday.

Desert Oasis at the Meadows

The Desert Oasis football team gathers on its new football field Thursday for its last practice before Friday's opening game. Launch slideshow »

Desert Oasis High School started the football season with some nice perks: brand new equipment and facilities, an easier schedule than a 4A school would normally have and tons of community support.

But there were also a few disadvantages, such as having no seniors, no headsets for the coaches and uniforms in the wrong colors.

The corrected uniforms ended up being delivered as the team practiced the day before its first game, but new jerseys were not enough to give the team a victory Friday night.

The brand new school lost 20-0 to The Meadows.

Despite the loss, the communities around the Southern Highlands campus have welcomed the new school, challenges and all.

“This community has really embraced the school,” coach Matt Jenkins said while watching his team practice the day before its first game. “It’s been great to be here and work with these parents and the whole community.”

The 25-minute drive to The Meadows didn't keep fans from showing up to support the team at its inaugural game.

“We’ve got more people here than The Meadows does,” said Nate Jackson, a member of the school booster club. “We’ve got a lot of support here. We have high hopes.”

Jackson yelled advice to the team between taking photos from the sidelines. His son, also named Nate, played for Sierra Vista last year and is now a linebacker for the Diamondbacks.

“We’re trying to establish this school to be better than any other school in the division,” he said.

Jenkins also noticed the fan turnout.

“Hopefully we didn’t disappoint them too much,” he said after the game. “They shouldn’t be disappointed in the kids. They played really well.”

Jenkins said he thinks highly of his team and personally took the blame for Friday night’s loss.

"They’re great kids," he said. "We don’t have a bad one out there."

Cheryl Basso was among the overflow crowd standing around the portable bleachers The Meadows provided for the visiting team.

Basso was at the game to support her husband, Jason, who is one of the assistant football coaches.

“He’s pretty excited,” she said. “He’s been on pins and needles all week and spent a lot of time at the school trying to help the kids get ready.”

Basso said her husband transferred to Desert Oasis from Liberty High School. She said they're both happy to be involved with the new school.

“We love having the school right here,” she said. “And this is a really good coaching team. He feels privileged to be part of it.”

Jory Hill and his brother managed to find a seat on the crowded bleachers. His daughter Taylor is a sophomore cheerleader at Desert Oasis.

Hill especially thought that the team’s irregular schedule was a good way to help build the new football program and to keep the younger kids from getting hurt on the field.

“It is cool that they are letting them play smaller schools,” he said. “It’s a good thing the way they’re doing it.”

Jenkins promised the first loss was not a showstopper for their inaugural season.

“We made a lot of mistakes on both sides of the football,” he said. “The great news was the kids’ attitude. Their attitude was great, the coaches’ attitude was great, and all the mistakes we made are fixable.”

And Jenkins promised the team will work hard again come Monday afternoon.

“I’m excited to get back on the field," he said. "The kids are excited to get back on the field and change the mistakes they made. We really aren’t that far off.”

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