Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 | 3:18 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer try to contain their excitement for the start of the football season enough to get through the first slate of games. They also discuss the two defending state champions, Bishop Gorman and Faith Lutheran.
Clark High had one of the program’s best seasons in recent memory in reaching the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
But the Chargers want more. They want to win game in the postseason and contend for a championship.
“I think we are as good as anyone in our league, honestly,” Clark coach Don Willis said. “If we come out and play well, we can be league champions.”
Clark finished with a 4-6 record last season, but lost a few games they arguably should have won. Willis has stressed to players the importance of finishing games, knowing they’ll eventually have to prevail in a tight contest to accomplish the goal of winning the league.
“We have kids that can play,” Willis said. “They have to understand they can play. They have to figure out what they can do at this level.”
Clark’s strength is the speed and athleticism of its skilled position players on offensive. Marquice Stuart had 244 yards receiving and three touchdowns last year, while running back Milan Dixon rushed for 646 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ty’Rek Wells at running back and linebacker was part of the Sun’s preseason all-city team.
“Those two running back can really carry the load for us,” Willis said of Dixon and Wells.
Clark, like most teams in the Division I-A, lacks player depth. They’ve already had to shuffle the lineup defensively, moving players penciled in to play linebacker to the defensive line because of a shortage of linemen.
Senior Jonathan Aldana (6 foot 2, 295 pounds) is the lead up front for Clark, and has the size and experience to be a difference maker. He’ll have his hands full, though, being a leader on a line where others are still developing.
“We have to get our mindset right for the season,” Aldana said.
Willis is constantly looking for ways to help his players build confidence and realize they can play with the best the Division I-A has to offer. A victory Friday against Boulder City would be a step in the right direction, showing last year’s playoff berth wasn’t by accident.
“We need to get off to a good start and build on that confidence (from last season),” Willis said.