Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Get ready to spot to abnormally fast Mountain Lions.
Sierra Vista might have its deficiencies this year, but coach Mark Sauve has a way to combat them — old-fashioned speed.
“That’s going to have to be our strength,” Sauve said. “We’re a little light on the offensive line, so we’re going to need to get off of the ball and make quick cuts. That’s what we need to be doing all season.”
Sierra Vista has five returning starters on offense, but only one of them is on the offensive line. The Mountain Lions lost two big tackles as well as a couple of other linemen because of eligibility issues.
What’s left is an athletic bunch but one that might not resemble a traditional unit manning the trenches.
“We’ve spent a lot of time just working on getting off of the ball,” Sauve said. “It’s going to be important.”
The skill players match with the persona of the line. If sophomore running backs Maliek Broady and Deyon McKinney get into the open field, there are few defenders who can catch them.
McKinney transferred from Clark, where he became the only Charger to score against Bishop Gorman in the past five years. As a freshman last season, McKinney broke loose for an 80-yard touchdown run in the first half against the Gaels.
Broady saw action as a freshman, too, for Sierra Vista. Against Durango, he had a team-high 71 yards on 12 carries.
“They’ve been learning fast, and the nice thing is, ball security hasn’t been an issue,” Sauve said. “They are so quick. We haven’t seen running backs like that since Akil Sharp a few years back.”
While McKinney and Broady may provide the highlights, seniors Tim Jenkins and Mike Dominique will serve as Sierra Vista’s steadying influences on the field.
Jenkins, a wide receiver and defensive back, and Dominique, a linebacker and kick returner, are three-year starters for the Mountain Lions.
They went through a one-win season two years ago and worked their way to a slight improvement with three wins in 2011. Offense wasn’t the problem, as the Mountain Lions scored a respectable 21 points per game.
But the defense gave up an astounding average of 38 points.
“We’ve gone into more of a 40 front,” Sauve said of the team’s effort to fix the defense. “We spent a lot of time making sure we don’t get gashed on the inside run. We got gashed last year against Durango and Desert Oasis. We’ve got to be better up the middle.”
Sauve will emphasize crashing the middle to get to ball carriers. To do that, Sierra Vista will need to use speed. Luckily, it’s the one thing Sauve says the team has in large supply.