Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer peek back at last week's rivalry games while beginning to wrap their heads around this week's packed schedule of them.
Aaron McAllister’s dad played in the Henderson Bowl. Same for his uncle and two brothers.
McAllister, the Basic High senior quarterback, easily recalls watching the annual football rivalry game against Green Valley from the bleachers when he was in grade school. There’s always more people in the crowd for this game, where many players on both sides wait years for their chance to enjoy Henderson Bowl glory.
That time is Friday when Basic hosts Green Valley at Don Taylor Stadium in the 26th installment of the game.
“All year I have been waiting to play in this game. It is my turn to play,” McAllister said. “I need to win another one, just like my brother.”
Green Valley opened in 1991 as Henderson’s second high school to create a natural rivalry with Basic, which had been around since the 1940s. While the population boom has nearly tripled the amount of high schools in Southern Nevada over the past two decades, and many of those schools have light community support, it’s much different at Basic and Green Valley.
Basic has the small-town community feel, including some teachers and coaches who have graduated from the school. The Green Valley neighborhood in Henderson is similar with tremendous community support and pride. Combined it has helped the Henderson Bowl arguably become the Las Vegas area’s top rivalry game.
“There are a lot of people in Henderson who have either been to Green Valley or been to Basic,” said Basic coach Jeff Cahill, who in 1991 played in the initial Henderson Bowl. “It means something to them. For the most part, especially in the recent era, it is really competitive games. It’s always a back-and-forth game.”
McAllister’s dad, Alonzo, played in the early 1990s when the rivalry started. His brother, Tank, was the quarterback last year, and oldest brother, Alonzo Jr, played five years ago. His uncle, Anton McAllister, played in the mid-2000s. His cousin, Dorian McAllister, is a sophomore running back, and another cousin, Rasheem Newsome is a senior linebacker.
Dorian’s dad, Dorian Sr., graduated before Green Valley opened but play on arguably Basic’s best-ever team. His 1989 Wolves reached the Southern Zone finals. So, yes, everyone knows this family.
“My family has ran through here. Our name is known throughout the school,” McAllister said. “It feels good to keep our family reputation going and hopefully lead the team to another victory.”
Cahill on Monday walked the Henderson Bowl trophy to his program’s lower-level practices with hopes of reaffirming to younger players the importance of the week. After the varsity practice, coaches shared memories of past games with players and stressed for them to have fun this week. One coach talked about his regrets in losing to Green Valley.
“This means something to us all. We want to keep it here,” Cahill said.
Basic won last year’s Henderson Bowl to break a four-year losing streak in the series, but Green Valley still holds the all-time edge, 16-9. And Green Valley desperately needs to add to that tally this year.
The Gators enter on a two-game losing streak. Another loss could put their playoff hopes in jeopardy in the competitive Southeast League.
“At this point of the season, you want to win every game,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said. “But for us, it is most important we play up to our potential. We haven’t done that so far.”
Last year’s game wasn’t decided until the final minute in a wild finish. More times than not over the past decade, it’s been a closely contested game. The tight scores, unlike other rivalries in the Las Vegas Valley, have made the Henderson Bowl stand above the rest.
“It is a neighborhood rivalry deal. It is a hometown deal,” Castro said. “There is a lot of history behind it. Anytime you have history, it’s important to the kids.”
In the early days of the rivalry, Green Valley won, and won big. That created a sense that Basic players cared more about the game than those at Green Valley, especially considering Green Valley was a new school with limited traditions. That’s far from the case now — it’s that one night players on both sides can’t wait to be part of.
“They beat us last year. I’m just looking forward to getting revenge,” Green Valley’s Brock Hershberger said. “Our team is hungry for a win.”