Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer talk Liberty's statement victory, Bishop Gorman's error-filled night and Centennial's time to shine against Arbor View. In the middle of the usual discussion, they break into an argument over which player is having the best season so far — D.J. Pumphrey or Niko Kapeli.
When people think of Arbor View football, they think of the double-wing and an annual arsenal of running backs. When Arbor View won the coin toss Friday, the Aggies elected to receive.
They’re an offensive team through and through, which made it all the more sweet when it was the defense that guided Arbor View to a 31-18 victory over Centennial.
“We had a great game plan and stuck to it,” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “We kind of took what they gave us defensively. The kids believed in it. We only had one letdown.”
Aside from one 67-yard touchdown pass when the game was all but decided in the fourth quarter, the Aggies held the Bulldogs to less than 100 yards of total offense. Centennial’s other touchdown came when Arbor View fumbled at its own 1-yard line.
The success started up front. The Aggies defensive front consisting of starters Elijah George, Steven Davis, Adrian Jimenez, Thomas Newton and Nic Sellars — collectively undersized compared to Centennial’s offensive front — embarrassed the Bulldogs.
“They are just really strong,” concluded Larry Norman, Arbor View running back and defensive back.
Arbor View continually stuffed Centennial’s vaunted rushing attack early, forcing four straight three-and-outs to open the game and not allowing a first down until two minutes remained in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, junior running back Jacob Speaks broke loose for 33- and 66-yard touchdown runs to give the Aggies a 14-0 head start. He rushed for a career-high 189 yards.
Speaks was one of three Arbor View running backs to score and receive at least eight carries, along with Norman and junior Salah Boyce.
“When you’re running five (players), they’re fresh,” Barnson said. “When the defensive kids get tired, the backs are fresh. That’s kind of our approach.”
Centennial’s offense got into a prolonged rhythm only once all night, when quarterback Austin Turley completed three straight passes right before halftime.
But Arbor View clamped down when Centennial got into field goal range. Sellars and senior defensive back Jimmie Finister each sacked Turley to make the Bulldogs settle for a 36-yard field goal from locomotive-legged Blake Frischknecht.
Even though the kick glided through with ease, Arbor View had reason to celebrate.
“Only giving up a field goal before half was really, really big,” Barnson said. “Going in 14-14 gives them the momentum. So even though they kicked a field goal to go 14-10, it was almost a victory. Our defense stopped them.”
That was the trend all night. Coming out of the locker room, the defense set up Arbor View’s next score when Finister picked off a third-down pass in Centennial territory.
“He was just coming across the middle,” Norman said. “We were in the zone and Jimmie just stepped up because he saw it coming. He has good vision.”
Norman grabbed an interception of his own at the six-yard line with a minute to go in the third quarter. He also broke a fourth-and-one run loose for a 40-yard touchdown to seal the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Barnson called Finister the leader of the defense and referred to Norman as one of the many promising underclassmen of the unit. There were compliments for every defender after the showing against the Bulldogs.
Barnson said defensive coordinator John Foss implemented the perfect plan and the execution was nearly flawless.
“It was just knowing our key assignments,” Norman said. “It was having the right people in the right positions.”