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May 28, 2022

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High School Football:

Kicking with the enemy: Former GV kicker now an assistant at rival Basic

His role adds a new wrinkle to the Henderson Bowl rivalry

Nolan Kohorst

Stephen Sylvanie

Former UNLV kicker Nolan Kohorst works with Basic High kicker Montana Gomez during a practice at the school on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.

Nolan Kohorst

Former UNLV Rebels kicker Nolan Kohorst supervises a team drill as Basic High School kicker and special teams coach during a Wolves practice at the school on Tueday afternoon. Launch slideshow »

Nolan Kohorst thought he’d never get another chance to be part of the Henderson Bowl after he and his Green Valley High teammates lost to Basic in 2009 during his senior season.

Kohorst remembers watching as Basic players raced across the field to grab the Henderson Bowl trophy and celebrate their victory in arguably Nevada’s most significant rivalry game.

Kohorst, a kicker, played three seasons in the Henderson Bowl. On Thursday, he returns as a first-year assistant coach, but he's not on the staff at his alma mater.

He is the kicking coach and helps with special teams at Basic. He got into coaching and teaching after finishing a four-year career last fall at UNLV.

“It will definitely be mixed emotions,” Kohorst said. “I love Green Valley. Love the coaches over there. Love the players over there. I always pull for Green Valley, so this will be a different feeling this week.”

The Henderson Bowl dates to 1991, when Green Valley became Henderson’s second high school and created a natural clash with Basic, which opened in the 1940s. Former players of both schools have returned to coach, but never have they joined the staff of the other program.

Kohorst started student teaching last spring at Basic and helping with the Wolves' baseball team. He quickly learned the stereotypes about Basic from when he played at Green Valley weren’t true.

Green Valley is believed to be more white-collar and, especially in the early days of the rivalry, had more affluent families. Basic is more blue-collar.

“(Green Valley) may only be a couple of miles away, but the schools and culture around the schools are so different,” Kohorst said. “We always thought Basic was the urchins of Henderson. Not everyone lives in a trailer over here. People take great pride in being working-class. That’s great.”

Kohorst was welcomed with open arms at Basic, especially considering what he brings to the program: one-on-one help daily with kickers. Montana Gomez has flourished under Kohorst’s tutelage in making 17 of 23 extra points and a 36-yard field goal, turning one of Basic’s weaknesses into a strength.

Click to enlarge photo

Green Valley HIgh kicker Nolan Kohorst

“He has been great for us,” Basic coach Jeff Cahill said. “We’ve struggled with field goals since I have been coach. Having someone who actually knows what he is doing is great. We have a kicker now who consistently kicks field goals and extra points.”

Cahill’s office is decorated with poster-sized photo prints taken after the game of past teams to win the Henderson Bowl. Basic won three straight games in the series through 2010, including Kohorst’s last two seasons at Green Valley, but has lost three straight entering Thursday’s game. It’s also the Southeast League opener for both teams, adding extra significance to a game already loaded with importance.

“Now that I know what (the Henderson Bowl) is about, it means more to me,” Kohorst said. “When I was a player, it was just another game. I have been through high school. I have been through college. I’ve learned what rivalries are about. It means more to me this time than the past three.”

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The Henderson Bowl trophy.

Green Valley senior offensive lineman Carter Nielson will start in his fourth Henderson Bowl. He learned as a freshman that this rivalry game isn’t like an ordinary Friday night.

Before the game, the trophy is walked onto the field by captains of the previous year’s winning team and placed on a table near the back of the end zone. Players can’t help randomly looking at the trophy during the game, thinking about how they’ll celebrate a victory. Players race over to trophy at the end of the game for the celebration of a lifetime.

“I’ve never lost (the Henderson Bowl), and I don’t plan on losing it,” Nielson said. “Our seniors are excited to carry on the legacy.”

Green Valley (3-1) is ranked No. 6 in the Sun’s top 10 and has two of the area’s top offensive players in quarterback Christian Lopez and running back Albert Lake. Last year, Green Valley scored 56 points to easily handle Basic.

But Green Valley coach Brian Castro knows that won’t be the case this year. Basic (3-2) has won three of its past four games and is one of the most improved teams in Southern Nevada. And, just like past seasons, records are meaningless in the Henderson Bowl. Both teams always bring a premium effort.

“They have some dudes that can make you pay if you miss,” Castro said. “They do a great job of taking the guys they have and putting them in a position to win.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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