Monday, May 8, 2017 | 2 a.m.
This year was somewhat of a renaissance for Cheyenne High School athletics.
Opening in 1991, the Desert Shields have seen great school years in sports. The boys basketball team made four state title appearances from 1999-2008 — including a state championship in 2003 — and many other programs have experienced success over the years.
But this year Cheyenne’s coaches may have accomplished the most, and did it with the least, officials say.
“We don’t have the money like some other schools so we have to really get out and fundraise,” said Anthony “Tank” Johnson, a Cheyenne grad who returned to lead the flag football team to its first-ever state championship this year. “These kids are less fortunate so we have to help buy cleats, equipment and help them with their spirit packs. There are a lot of kids in this area that don’t have role models in their life so us coaches have to be those role models. That’s why I’m proud to work with these guys.”
Flag football made it all the way to the state championship game the year prior but fell just short to Boulder City. This season the girls returned and beat Virgin Valley 7-0 for the state title.
“I had a lot of seniors that wanted to leave their mark on the school and wanted to be remembered for something and they worked hard to do it,” Johnson said.
Coach Teral Fair coached the basketball team back into relevance this year. The Desert Shields surprised many with a pair of win over heavily-favored Desert Pines to clinch the regular season 3A Sunset League Title.
“We had a lot of guys with either no varsity experience or were new to our program, and they went through a lot of growth – more so off the court than on the court,” Fair said. “We didn’t have a lot of the fan fair of the more seasoned players so the opinion of Cheyenne was they didn’t have anyone of note and that’s where the underestimating of us came into play.”
Cheyenne finished 19-7, a perfect 10-0 in league play, and made it all the way to the state championship game before falling to Desert Pines.
Meanwhile, the girls basketball team made a meteoric leap.
Under coach Daniel Guy this year’s senior class had never had a winning season or finished higher than fifth in the league. They proceeded to go undefeated in league play to win the team’s first league championship since 1998. More important, Guy said all six of his senior players will be attending college next year.
“I’ve won conferences before but this one was the most satisfying because of where they started from,” Guy said. “The first thing was for them to trust me, and it wouldn’t have worked if it was just me. I had a diverse staff with younger and older coaches. When they saw more than one person caring for them it was easy for them to buy into the system.”
All three coaches praised their assistants.
“I believe we have the best group of assistant coaches in the school district and they had a lot to do with what we all accomplished,” Guy said.
The school celebrated Johnson, Fair and Guy last Thursday, hosting a surprise banquet dinner at Cheyenne. Players from each of the teams stepped up to the microphone and thanked their coach for all they had done for them.
The Desert Shields should be back just as strong next year, and hope to continue their way up the ranks in multiple sports.
“I think it opens up the eyes of the community that Cheyenne is coming back,” Johnson said. “Cheyenne has been off for a couple years but now it will get more kids to come this way and get the community more involved.”