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December 13, 2017

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Desert Pines looking to make major strides in new Division 1-A Sunrise


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Desert Pines football players Trevon Turner and Travis Nofoa Thursday, July 26, 2012.

Senior OL Michael Cisneros

Senior offensive lineman Michael Cisneros talks about Desert Pines' upcoming season

Sunrise Region — Division 1-A

Boulder City football players Michael Kelso and D. J. Koopman Thursday, July 26, 2012. Launch slideshow »

If the flavor of Desert Pines’ offense in recent years was vanilla, it’s transforming into Neapolitan this season.

The Jaguars will continue to use their run-between-the-tackles mentality, but some new wrinkles may accompany the standard fare to diversify the attack.

“We’ve got some tricks,” Desert Pines football coach Paul Bennett said. “There are some changes. We’re pretty excited about it.”

Some may wonder why Desert Pines has any desire to switch up its approach. The team has arguably the top running back, junior Eric Wilkes, and lineman, senior Michael Cisneros, in the newly formed Division 1-A Sunrise Division.

It’s the perfect lineup to enable the Jaguars to stick with what’s worked. But, like any good football coach, Bennett is interested in evolving.

“One of the biggest things on my evaluation with my offensive coordinator was that we needed to be a little more balanced with the passing game,” Bennett said. “We haven’t just because I’m from western Pennsylvania, and when you’re from western Pennsylvania, you run the ball.”

Desert Pines has two quarterbacks that will get snaps. Bennett is confident in both junior Iquan Corsey and senior Travis Nofoa and thinks the Jaguars can make use of their unique skill sets.

Donovan Wright, Leon Flintroy and Trevon Turner will provide additional speed on the edges. And Wilkes, of course, will serve as the focal point of everything the Jaguars do.

Bennett has watched several talented running backs come through Desert Pines but said Wilkes could go down as one of the school’s all-time greats.

“He’s powerful but also finesse,” Bennett said. “He can do both if he needs to. We’re excited for him. I stay on him constantly about staying focused because I know how good he can be.”

The same group of players will star on the defensive end. Several premier colleges have shown interest in Cisneros as a defensive tackle.

Nofoa lines up next to Cisneros at defensive end in the Jaguars' 4-4 alignment, and Wilkes plays behind them at linebacker.

Some new faces will bolster the secondary, where the Jaguars were susceptible last season, as evidenced in losses to Rancho and Foothill.

For all that’s changing, Bennett’s coaching style will stay eerily steady. He prides himself on the consistency he’s established at Desert Pines, as the Jaguars have made the playoffs for seven straight years.

“There’s a vision we had, and I’ve implemented it,” Bennett said. “But first and foremost, I’m trying to develop young men. I used football as a blueprint to learn discipline, and that’s what I’m trying to teach.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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