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High school football hall of fame to be housed at Sam Boyd Stadium

Prep coaches hoping to help UNLV keep local prospects home

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Courtesy photo

The Clark County High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame will be housed at Sam Boyd Stadium starting in the fall. Here’s a look at the 22-foot wide, by 12-foot high wall wrap documenting the coaches, administrators and other officials who have been inducted since the hall was created in 1996. The hall previously had no home.

List of Hall of Fame coaches and administrators

  • Doc Foster, Western and Bonanza, 1996 (coach)
  • Larry Barnson, Clark, 1996 (coach)
  • Chuck Razmic, Rancho, 1996 (coach)
  • Angelo Collis, Las Vegas, 1996 (coach)
  • Larry Fromhart, Western and Valley, 1996 (coach)
  • Rich Whitehead, Clark and Basic, 1997 (coach)
  • Joe Blockovich, Western and Basic, 1997 (coach)
  • Dave Gerber, Bishop Gorman and Valley, 1997 (coach)
  • Bobby Johnson, Chaparral and Valley, 1998 (coach)
  • Norm Craft, Rancho and Bishop Gorman, 1998 (administrator)
  • John Chura, Chaparral, 1999 (coach)
  • Chuck Gerber, Bishop Gorman, 1999 (coach)
  • Carroll Johnston, Western and Green Valley, 1999 (administrator)
  • Horrace Smith, Western and Bonanza, 2000 (coach)
  • Rick Traasdahl, Western and Valley, 2000 (coach)
  • Frank Nails, Gorman and Las Vegas, 2000 (administrator)
  • Joe Gallia, Valley, 2001 (coach)
  • Frank Reeves, Boulder City and Bonanza, 2001 (coach)
  • Jack Mannion, Chaparral, 2001 (administrator)
  • Cary Mitchell, Eldorado and Las Vegas, 2002 (coach)
  • Greg Spencer, Cimarron-Memorial, 2002 (coach)
  • Carol Leavitt, Centennial, 2002 (administrator)
  • Mike Gutowski, Mojave and Eldorado, 2003 (coach)
  • Don Johnston, Durango, 2003 (administrator)
  • Kris Cinkovich, Las Vegas, 2004 (coach)
  • George Perry, Cheyenne, 2004 (coach)
  • Barry Gunderson, Las Vegas, 2004 (administrator)
  • Jim Nicksick, Rancho and Green Valley, 2005 (coach)
  • Donnie Kennedy, Cimarron-Memorial and Valley, 2005 (coach)
  • Dick Paulin, Eldorado, 2005 (administrator)
  • John Mausbach, Durango, 2007 (coach)
  • Janice Rowland, Cimarron-Memorial, 2007 (administrator)
  • Ron Smeltzer, Cimaronn-Memorial and Coronado, 2008 (coach)
  • Cliff Frazier, Basic, 2008 (coach)
  • Andre Denson, Mojave, 2008 (administrator)
  • John Wise, Basic, 2009 (coach)
  • Dave Varrato, Bonanza and Eldorado, 2009 (coach)
  • Mickey Curtwright, Rancho and Las Vegas, 2009 (coach)

Frank Nails doesn’t consider himself one of the great ones.

Ask the veteran Southern Nevada high school football coach and administrator about his contributions to local prep sports and the 71-year-old Nails humbly credits others for helping along the way.

“Everything was a team deal,” Nails said. “When you are an old coach like me, you realize how important that is.”

Simply take one look at Nails’ track record, however, and it’s easy to realize why he’s one of the area’s most respected coaches.

Nails coached Bishop Gorman High to the first large-school state title in 1970, and after moving into the public school system, he spent more than 20 years as the assistant principal in charge of athletics at Las Vegas High.

His legacy, and the greatness of others associated with local high school football, will be documented starting this fall at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Nails is one of 56 coaches, administrators and other officials who are part of the Clark County High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame. The hall, which was created in 1996 and previously had no official home, will be housed at UNLV’s home stadium.

Bringing the hall to Sam Boyd Stadium was a joint effort between retired coaches, such as Nails and former Western High coach Horrace Smith, and Daren Libonati, the stadium’s executive director.

A 22 feet by 12 feet wall wrap with vintage photos of the inductees will be displayed in the Southwest concourse of the stadium. All of the names will be listed and space will be left for future inductees to be added.

“We got all of the old guys together and you just can’t believe the response of how many people wanted to be involved (in the planning),” Smith said. “The hall has to be a special place for special men.”

Nails is at the top of the list.

One of Nails’ finals acts before retiring in 1996 changed the landscape of high school football in Las Vegas. He hired Kris Cinkovich to take over a struggling program, and Cinkovich turned the Wildcats into a powerhouse.

Cinkovich coached Las Vegas to a state title in 2001 before leaving to be an assistant at UNLV. Top assistant Chris Faircloth, also hired by Nails, has continued the momentum in coaching Las Vegas to championships in 2005 and 2006.

“(Nails) was always looking to get a leg up on the competition,” Faircloth said. “He was always looking to hire the right guy. He would get rid of guys who didn’t fit the bill. He was an aggressive administrator who didn’t care what people thought of him.”

Nominees for the hall must be retired for five years and have spent 15 years coaching in Southern Nevada. There are 28 coaches in the hall, 10 administrators, four officials, a handful of media members and three historic figures.

The 1944 Las Vegas High football team, which went undefeated and didn’t yield any points, is part of the group.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the high school football guys to get together with the university and share something everyone is passionate about,” Libonati said.

UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck and Athletic Director Jim Livengood immediately approved the idea when it was presented to them this spring by the coaches.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the high school coaches’ hall of fame,” Hauck said. “It is a privilege to have the great careers of these coaches recognized at our stadium.”

The coaches are equally excited about being associated with UNLV. They hope the visibility the hall brings will help spotlight the quality of football in Southern Nevada.

“If (Hauck) needs me to go to a school to talk to a kid about staying home, I will,” Nails said. “The bottom line is that this community supports its football and those athletes should be staying home and playing at UNLV.”

Smith added, “We all want UNLV football to be successful. We are tired of kids leaving for Oregon State or wherever. Staying here in Vegas at UNLV should be a good alternative. We think this Hauck guy can get it done, and we are going to pitch in the best win can to help out.”

Libonati said the wall wrap should be installed for the home opener Sept. 4 against Wisconsin.

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  1. Ray-
    Who votes on these coaches/administrators? I'm a little biased being an alumni from Moapa Valley High School, but I figure having the 3rd most state championships behind Vegas High and Reno High would merit some hall of fame recognition. Will more coaches be added in the future?

  2. Blueandgold: The hall will include coaches from Southern Nevada's small schools starting this fall. Coach Smith mentioned how there were deserving coaches from Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley who need to be honored. I would expect it to happen sooner than later.

  3. I'm afraid that UNLV will mange to bury this display somewhere where no one will see it.

    look at the T&M, the walls are covered with every event that has nothing to do with UNLV's basketball history......you have to seek out one little 3 foot by 5 foot display of the glory years........but you can see a wall mural of Garth Brooks, the Rodeo & Disney on Ice.

    UNLV needs some serious help in marketing it's past.

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  5. Great Group of Men and fine coaches and Educators

  6. I wonder if you'll have to stand in pee to see it?

    Sorry, but I can't get too excited about putting this at Sam Boyd Stadium.

  7. i say put it on water street somewhere

  8. Maybe TIMET can host it.