Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 | 2 a.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.
Bonanza High coach Kevin Volcic readily admits that on paper his 2014 roster doesn’t look as good as last year’s version. Yet at no point does he think that’s going to mean a step backward this season.
In fact, the Bengals are thinking just the opposite.
“We’re not as talented as we were last year but I think being in this system for almost two years now, I think this year’s going to be a lot smoother than last year,” said Volcic, whose team opens the season tonight at Pahrump Valley.
Last year’s 3-6 season included an 0-5 mark in Sunset Northwest games. Those losses included both blowouts — combined 135-0 score against Legacy and Bishop Gorman — and heartbreakers, including a two-point loss to Centennial.
While there’s still a long ways to go in the lopsided losses, it’s those close games that Volcic feels the Bengals will be able to pull out this season. It won’t be easy, though, as Bonanza will rely heavily on the experience of its three returning defenders.
Linebacker Hector Montenegro is one of those guys. He’s spent a couple of years looking up to the older guys and he’s ready to switch into being that role model.
“Now I want to be for those younger kids kind of an idol,” Montenegro said.
And after going against the offense in practice, defensive lineman Jalil Briley is confident in that side of the ball.
“We have the talent to score if we get our minds right,” Briley said.
It’s going to be a different offensive look this year, Volcic said. Without the speed from last year’s team the Bengals are using more power running formations. It’s one of many things that Volcic has changed entering his second season as a head coach.
Perhaps the biggest is how much better Volcic knows his personnel after a season that at times felt overwhelming.
“It was a tornado, I had so much going on,” Volcic said. “This year’s been a lot slower for me.”
The Bengals hope a little slower is better for them in 2014, from the coach on down to the power-based offense. Whatever the pace, they like their cohesion.
“Last year as a team we had tons of talent but a whole lot of individuals,” Montenegro said. “This year I think we’re more of a team.”