Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
Back from Arizona, a heartbroken Ray Brewer recounts the costly mistakes that made Nevada teams go 0-2 in this year's Sollenberger Classic. Fellow Las Vegas Sun sports reporter Case Keefer helps him cope by looking at this week's national showdown between Bishop Gorman and Maryland's Our Lady Of Good Counsel. The two also babble semi-coherently on the rest of the week's games and high school football players' favorite rappers. Don't forget to subscribe to Prep Sports Now on Itunes.
Cheyenne football coach David Cochran frequently delivers a similar message to the players on his team: Championships are won on the field, not the Internet.
Ever since the Desert Shields were realigned to the new Division I-A, several in high school football circles have penciled them in as the favorite to win the state title.
The new division takes the old 3A classification — Boulder City, Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley — and combines them with schools, such as Chaparral, Western and Sunrise Mountain, that struggled to compete in recent years against larger-enrollment schools. The realignment formula factored in results for several sports, meaning Cheyenne was better suited for the lower level because its athletic programs as a whole struggled.
Football rarely has had a down season in the school’s 20-plus year history, including last year when they lost by one point to a Centennial squad that nearly reached the Sunset Regional title game. Roughly 10 years ago, Cheyenne knocked three-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman out of the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
“Some of the kids are getting comfortable and caught up, reading their own press clippings,” Cochran said. “We need to continue to work hard, and hopefully our hard work and dedication will pay off with some victories.
“Like I tell them all the time, nobody will lay down for you just because you are Cheyenne. Everyone in our new conference has a new life. They think they can win it all. We can’t let what the media says get to our head.”
One look at the 12-team division and it’s easy to see why Cheyenne could be the favorites. The Desert Shields and Desert Pines High are the only teams from the new division that made the large-school playoffs last year, and Cheyenne returns a sure-thing college prospect in running back Myloe Lewis, who is one of two players from the Division I-A on the Sun’s preseason all-city team.
Also, Maxpreps.com ranks Cheyenne as Nevada’s seventh most consistent program in a listing of each state’s top 10 consistent teams.
Winning a state title, however, won’t be as easy as showing up each Friday night — especially when showing up on Friday nights won’t be as easy as before.
Cheyenne will play one road game 70 miles away at Pahrump Valley and could have to travel to Overton’s Moapa Valley, Mesquite’s Virgin Valley or up north to face defending state champ Truckee in the playoffs. Learning how to prepare for the road trips — such as having a snack for players after a long bus ride — could become equally important as learning how to stop the opposition’s offense.
“No matter who you play or where you are playing, it is about producing,” Cochran said. “You have to play the hand that is dealt to you.”
Lewis, who runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, automatically gives Cheyenne an advantage because there traditionally aren’t many players at this level with his speed. Still, like Cochran has preached to him, yards and touchdowns won’t be easy to come by.
“We just have to stay humble and put in the work out here,” said Lewis, who last year rushed for 963 yards and 12 touchdowns. “It’s good to be in this position, but we have to stay level-headed and trust the coaches.”
Lewis isn’t the lone player who should shine for Cheyenne.
Senior defensive lineman Victor Magana was a first-team all-Northwest selection last year, and senior defensive end Dylan Power (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) is a returning starter with a big body the opposition could find tough to contain. Last year, both thrived in the Northwest League — which was widely considered the state’s toughest league.
“We aren’t too confident. We are just out here trying to win some games,” Power said. “We want to show everyone that we are Cheyenne and show them what Cheyenne is about, and that’s winning some games.”
Cheyenne also returns wide receiver and defensive back Devin Tatum and expects big things from Darius Gantt at running back, wide receiver and defensive back.
Piece all the parts together and even Cochran knows it has the making for a good season. Well, only if his players put in the work.
“My theme is always the same: Hard work and dedication will result in good things,” the coach said.