Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 | 12:29 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer welcome back football season by going through all the leagues, and also touch on major storylines. They also disagree on picks for numerous week 1 games.
Foothill seniors Isaac Oliva and Anthony McAllister blew up almost every Centennial inside run Friday night in a season-opening game between the cross-town powers. The Bulldogs found it no easier on the outside through the air either, as Falcons’ seniors Jordan Blakeley and Titus Lowe led a suffocating effort in the secondary.
Oliva found plenty of room to run for himself on the other side of the ball, eclipsing 150 rushing yards on only 11 carries. Foothill’s passing game hummed too, as sophomore quarterback Koy Riggin at one point went nearly two straight quarters without an incompletion.
Coaches will say there’s no such thing as a complete performance in the first game of the season. Foothill came pretty close Friday night, dominating in all phases to drown Centennial 26-0.
“I thought it was a statement getting the shutout,” Oliva said.
Centennial hadn’t gone without scoring any points in four years, and that includes three matchups with three-time defending national champions Bishop Gorman. The Bulldogs couldn’t even reach the red zone against the Falcons, which posted its own shutout for the first time in four years.
It’s hard to believe it came against Centennial, one of the highest scoring teams in Southern Nevada last year with an average of 34 points per game. The Bulldogs lost most of their skill players, including standout quarterback Jamaal Evans who’s now at Utah State, but were still expected to put up points behind lauded new quarterback Vladimir Plotnikov.
“He’s a real athletic kid, so stopping him was our focus coming into the game,” Foothill coach Marty Redmond said. “We were able to shut him down pretty well.”
Plotnikov showed off his arm strength and mobility early, but could never find the space to use either attribute. Foothill held him to 32 rushing yards on nine carries, and 86 passing yards on 29 attempts including two interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Falcons immediately put the Bulldogs at a deficit they could never escape. Oliva burst through a massive hole created by his offensive line on the first play of the game for a 70-yard touchdown.
“I just set the momentum for the team — got it going,” Oliva said.
Foothill went three-and-out on its next possession but then forced Centennial into a third-and-long where a big hit caused a fumble. Blakely recovered the fumble, giving him two takeaways after an interception in the second quarter.
On the first play after Blakely’s recovery, Riggin darted a pass to junior Braedan Wilson for a 53-yard touchdown. Overall, Riggin completed 10 of 13 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown.
“For his first game, he did really well,” Redmond said. “I have a couple things we need to work on, but overall, he’s a very smart kid.”
Riggin did throw an interception to break a streak of nine straight completions, but it wasn’t an egregious pass by any means. Centennial senior Tyler Roper made an acrobatic move to tip the ball, which then landed in teammate Davon Walden’s hands.
Foothill returned the favor with a highlight interception late in the game when senior Mario Rodriguez batted down and then picked off a Plotnikov pass at the 1-yard line. Penalties prevented the Falcons from converting the turnover into points, but the Bulldogs got the ball back with less than a minute left.
Their longest play of the game, a 33-yard run by sophomore Jordan Smith, was also the final play of the game. So, yes, the Falcons might have made some mistakes.
But they certainly didn’t come at crucial times.
“It wasn’t perfect,” Redmond said, “but we executed really well at times.”