Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Sept. 5, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer gloat over local high school football teams' big out of state weekend before getting sophomoric and starting some trouble with discussions on Bishop Gorman, Centennial, Desert Pines and more.
Last season, Canyon Springs High lost only two games by a combined four points. Close losses like that tend to stick with a team, especially the one that ends the season.
That 24-21 loss to Liberty High, when the Pioneers came up one or two plays short of advancing to the Sunrise regional championship, has been replayed in a lot of minds this offseason.
“Every day I think about that,” said senior offensive and defensive lineman Melvin Johnson.
Added senior quarterback Bradley Alexander II, "You try to forget about it, but it ingrains itself in your head."
Now the key for Canyon Springs, which opens the season at 7 tonight against Cheyenne High, is turning that pain into production in 2014. It’s OK to remember your losses only if you learn from them, and that’s the plan at Canyon Springs.
The Pioneers jumped right into offseason workouts with vigor, something coach Hunkie Cooper loved to see.
“No season is successful without your offseason,” Cooper said.
Most of the questions around the team pertain to the defense, which is replacing several key starters from one of the city’s best units. Most of those guys had great football aptitude, Cooper said, but the new group might have more physical skills.
“We’ve been able to counter that (loss) by adding guys with more talent,” Cooper said.
Still, it’s going to take time for the defense to get used to playing together. Cooper is hoping that the offense, which returns all 11 starters, will be able to carry the team while the defense gels.
All-Sun running back Zaviontay Stevenson is back for his senior year after rushing for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and Johnson, another All-Sun pick, will be able to help the line on both sides of the ball.
Ranked No. 8 in the Sun’s latest top 10, the Pioneers once again appear to have a lot of pieces in place to be a solid team. And if the defense comes together like Cooper thinks it will, watch out.
“Once we all get going, there’s no stopping us,” Alexander said.