Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
This could be a historic week for the Sunrise Mountain High football program.
When the Miners open the season Friday by hosting Western, the fourth-year program has a realistic shot of accomplishing something that has painfully eluded them in past seasons: winning a varsity game.
There are eight players on the Sunrise Mountain roster who have been with the program since the school opened in 2009. When they met at the end of last year, they vowed to work hard in the offseason with hopes of finally breaking into the win column.
The varsity team has twice beaten a junior varsity opponent but has dropped 26 straight games against equal-level competition.
“Those seniors are tired of being the doormat,” Sunrise Mountain coach Ky Edwards said. “They have made tons of improvements and expect good things. It could get real emotional Friday if we play like we are capable of.”
“We set some goals in the spring, and the No. 1 goal was to get the first varsity win,” Edwards said. “We were clicking on all cylinders against Bonanza and Clark. If we play like that (against Western), it could be pretty exciting.”
Quarterback Chris Moore (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) returns for his fourth year as Sunrise Mountain’s starter. He passed for 711 yards and four touchdowns last year, suffering because the Miners weren’t good in pass protection and didn’t have receivers capable of catching the ball. This year could be different, Edwards said.
“The kid has a cannon. We just haven’t had anyone who could block or catch for him,” he said. “That’s a real smart and talented kid. He hasn’t gotten any (college) looks because of our failure to have team success.”
Junior running backs Romello Tatum and Sherman Nash, who is part of the school’s state champion 1,600-meter relay team, will get a bulk of the carries in the running game.
Defensively, senior linebacker Jesus Pena (5-foot-8, 185 pounds) returns as a three-year starter. Pena, the anchor of the defense, also was one of the leaders in the offseason training program.
“He’s our emotional leader. The kid is a workhorse,” Edwards said. “He really leads by example.”
While this season looks like it could produce that first varsity win, Edwards knows sustaining the effort will be easier said than done. Sunrise Mountain still struggles with numbers — one of the main reasons for the losing skid — and the coach knows the lack of depth could be problematic if a starter gets injured.
“We have low numbers again, so we are going to have to stay healthy,” he said.