Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 | 2:27 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.
The Rancho football team won’t win a state championship this season. Nor will it make the playoffs.
Instead, they’ll continue to work on rebuilding their program, try to win at least one game and, most important, keep players healthy.
Rancho successfully petitioned the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association in the offseason to play an independent schedule, willing to accept a two-year hiatus from competing for the playoffs in an attempt to overhaul the program.
Rancho hasn’t won since the 2011 season, losing more than 20 straight games and being outscored 1,004-82 in the past two seasons. Making matters worse, as they told the NIAA, is players were being injured because they were overmatched.
Having a chance to retool the program with two years of no pressure has been a refreshing change. It’s allowed Rancho’s coaches to focus solely on developing players.
“We are hoping that gives us the opportunity to go out and be competitive, and give these kids a chance to do something special with their high school career,” Rancho coach Tyrone Armstrong said.
Armstrong, in his second season, says the improvements are obvious. There are more players in the program, and players are stronger and have more knowledgeable on the game.
The next step is having those improvements result in a victory. That would ignite one massive celebration with the players, most of which have suffered through the tough defeats. Multiple opposing coaches have complimented the Rancho players for their fight over the past two years, saying how impressed they were with the team’s willing to not quit.
A victory would be one sweet reward.
“This year, seeing how we are coming back, I would like to get some wins,” said Angel Walker, Rancho’s sophomore wide receiver and its top offensive player. “It would be pretty good to get that one win.”
Rancho is led by junior linebacker Luc Scott, Walker at linebacker and wide receiver, and sophomore defensive tackle Kyle Armstrong.
They lead a core group of underclassmen coach Armstrong feels confident about in leading the transformation.
“The key is to keep working hard and to keep our kids’ nose to the grindstone,” the coach said. “Everyday we work at getting better. As long as we continue to do that, we’ll get wins.”
Other players of note include: senior running back Robert Howard, sophomore running back Marquee Kemp and senior center Jakob Mitchell.