Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer break down this week's high school football playoff games, including their picks for potential upsets.
Las Vegas High wide receiver Marquan Major gathered his teammates minutes before they took the field Friday for their Sunrise Regional quarterfinal playoff game and delivered a simple message: Don’t take any opponent lightly.
Major, a senior who is the Wildcats’ unquestioned leader, proceeded to tell his teammates how a victory against visiting Del Sol would help avenge the disappointments of last year.
Las Vegas was upset by Foothill in last year’s regional quarterfinals, a clear-cut case of the six-time defending regional champions overlooking the last-seeded Falcons. Also last year, Del Sol jumped out to a three-touchdown lead in a 33-28 victory against Las Vegas in the regular season — a win Del Sol players considered the most significant in the school’s seven-year history.
Las Vegas didn’t come up short this time.
Farrell Victor scored on a 16-yard run on Las Vegas’ second play from scrimmage and the Wildcats didn’t take their foot off the gas in a 37-10 victory.
Las Vegas, the Northeast Division champions and the regional's No. 1 seed, advances to next week semifinals. Ironically, they will host Foothill — the same squad it was beaten by last year in one of the biggest playoff upsets of the last decade.
“The powers above gave us the opportunity to get both those (defeats) off our backs,” said Major, a battle-tested, three-year varsity performer who has scholarship offers from UNLV and Idaho. “We know what it feels like to lose. That’s something I reminded them of.”
Major’s message was received loud and clear. He started two years ago in a state semifinal loss to Palo Verde and feels this year’s team has the talent to make another deep playoff run.
His teammates agree, especially with the lanky receiver leading the way.
“Marquan brings so much to this team, actually,” said Henderson, who completed 10 of 19 passes for 159 yards and an 85-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Rogers. “He’s always drawing double teams and that allows Cameron to open up …He told us this was our chance. We only get one of them.”
Las Vegas jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead, but Del Sol didn’t back down. After all, the Dragons are the defending regional champions and full of confidence from beating Las Vegas last year.
Chris Marshall scored on an 8-yard touchdown run one minute into the second quarter to trim the Del Sol deficit to 10-7.
The Dragons’ momentum, however, was short-lived. Marshall, a junior who plays offense, defense and special teams, injured his knee four minutes before halftime and didn’t return. Already missing a few key players to injury, Del Sol never rebounded.
“We just couldn’t move the ball,” Del Sol coach Preston Goroff said.
Using its tremendous team speed, Las Vegas’ players seemed to be running in a different gear. On Rogers’ long touchdown pass before halftime, for instance, he hauled in a heave from Henderson and outraced Del Sol defenders to the end zone.
It’s been the same way all season — even if the competition wasn’t the best the state had to offer.
Las Vegas often gets a bad rap for playing in the Northeast, a league that is widely considered the weakest large-school classification division.
But with players such as Rogers, Victor and Major, who have been clocked about 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, the Wildcats are showing they are legit
“We feel we can play with anyone,” said Victor, who finished with 126 rushing yards on 15 carries. “We would have played those teams on the other side just as hard.”
Goroff, whose team fell to Bishop Gorman in last year’s state finals, feels Las Vegas has what it takes to challenge for the championship.
“That’s an exceptional football team that is well coached,” Goroff said. “They will go a far way.”