CASE KEEFER/IPHONE PHOTO
Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 | 2 a.m.
A mural outside of the Shadow Ridge High football stadium depicts a mustang galloping through a small opening, kicking up dust on the way out.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer celebrate rivalry week in Southern Nevada by discussing the big three — Centennial vs. Arbor View, Bishop Gorman vs. Palo Verde and Las Vegas vs. Liberty. They also touch on the Division 1A playoffs.
Inside the stadium, Dominick Wilson regularly recreates the illustration of himself on Friday nights. Wilson has worked as the horse that’s powered the Mustangs this season, rushing for nearly 800 yards and eight touchdowns during a breakout junior season.
“I felt like I was going to do well before the season,” Wilson said before a day of practice earlier this week. “I just came out and tried to play as hard as I could.”
Wilson ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries last Friday against Durango to secure Shadow Ridge a playoff spot. The performance also garnered him the Sun’sPlayer of the Week honor.
The award is reserved not for the established stars around the valley, but rather, those who burst onto the scene throughout the season.
At the beginning of the season, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Wilson wasn’t even listed as one of Shadow Ridge’s key players. The Mustangs had several more experienced running backs, but a couple of them were ruled ineligible.
The opportunity fell to Wilson.
“I knew he was going to be a good running back but I never knew how good he was going to be,” Shadow Ridge coach Frank Tousa said. “This year, every time he runs the ball, he falls forward. He hardly ever falls backwards or gets stalemated.”
Wilson is averaging better than six yards per carry despite facing one of the toughest schedules in Southern Nevada. Shadow Ridge has played five of the top six teams in the Sun’s top 10 rankings.
Wilson produced his fourth 100-yard plus rushing performance against Durango. He could have potentially had the chance for a couple more, but suffered an injury in the first game of the year.
Shadow Ridge held strong initially in its opener against No. 5 Liberty with Wilson leading the way. Wilson’s first career touchdown, a three-yard run in the second quarter, cut the Patriots’ lead to 15-13 before he came out of the game with a bruised tailbone.
Wilson also missed the next week’s game against No. 4 Green Valley.
“I have him in (weight training) class too so he was talking to me and wanted to play,” Tousa said. “But we didn’t want him to get hurt and have it nag throughout the season so we just let him sit and get up to 100 percent because we knew he was going to get the ball quite a few times for us this season.”
Wilson went into Shadow Ridge’s next game hungry, even more motivated than usual. The results showed.
In a contest player and coach agreed was his best of the season, Wilson went for 235 yards and four touchdowns in a 25-14 win.
“He looked as good on the 30th carry as he did on the first carry,” Tousa said. “That’s when we knew we could rely on him. He doesn’t fumble the ball much, and is just a tough kid.”
Wilson wants to put on weight and get faster in the offseason. He plans to start a rigorous strength regimen and to run the 100- and 200-meter dashes on the track team.
His ultimate goal is to play football in college. Wilson’s favorite team is Oregon, but he’s hoping to get any opportunity at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
For Wilson, however, that’s looking a little too far ahead. Shadow Ridge has one regular-season game remaining, tonight against Legacy, that will determine which team gets the Southwest division’s No. 3 seed in the postseason.
The game plan is no secret. The Mustangs will give Wilson every chance to run wild.
“I’ve just been trying to hit the holes my linemen give me,” Wilson said. “I’m more of a downhill runner, but I’m fast as well. I have breakaway speed when I need it.”