Joe Delgado knows expectations will be through the roof for the Mojave football team in 2014.
The third-year Rattlers coach is operating on an accelerated timetable, however.
“We’ve got to look at now,” Delgado said, “and I believe that we have enough talent and we have the skill level and the mindset to do it now. There’s no reason to wait for next year.”
Fresh off only the second playoff appearance in the school’s 17-year history, the junior-laden Rattlers are one of the favorites in the Division I-A Sunset League and a dark horse to challenge for the — gasp! — state title a year ahead of schedule.
Mojave hosts Boulder City in the season opener for both teams at 7 p.m. Friday.
“The kids have a lot to prove,” Delgado said. “They don’t get a lot of respect because they’re from Mojave and traditionally Mojave’s not known for football. The kids want to put it on the map and make a name for us.”
Mojave fell on hard times after its only other postseason berth, in 2007, losing 25 of its next 27 games.
In 2011, Mojave was designated as one of three “turnaround” high schools in Clark County, with federal grant money used in an effort to improve the culture and student performance at the chronically underperforming school.
Delgado was hired as part of the sweeping changes, and the Rattlers won two games in his first season. Last year, they finished 6-5, including a forfeit loss to Sunrise Mountain for using an ineligible player, and were second in the I-A Sunset League.
Mojave’s four on-field defeats in 2012 came by a combined 15 points, including a 36-32 loss to Moapa Valley in a Division I-A state quarterfinal. That performance on the road against the eventual state runner-up is a large reason for the lofty projections this season.
“Last year, nobody thought we would win that many games and make it to the playoffs and barely lose (to Moapa Valley) like we did,” junior running back Ty Flanagan said. “This year, people just don’t know. We’re going to shock them.”
Flanagan is one of 10 starters back on offense and was a second-team I-A all-state performer after rushing for 1,212 yards and 15 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pound standout added 25 pounds since last season and is drawing attention from Arizona, Colorado, UCLA, UNLV, UNR and Utah.
Junior quarterback Zack Arave was also a second-team I-A all-state pick last season as he produced almost 2,300 yards of offense and 23 touchdowns.
Wide receiver Marcus Parker, a 6-5 junior, averaged almost 24 yards per reception last season and is a difficult matchup in the red zone. He is hearing from Arizona, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, UNR and Utah.
On defense, Lorenzo Guerrero, one of the few seniors on a roster loaded with juniors and sophomores, is coming off a 14-sack season and leads an experienced unit.
With all that talent, it’s no wonder Arave and Co. are hoping a strong showing this season could boost the Rattlers into Division I for the next realignment cycle that begins in 2014.
“I want this team to be remembered,” Arave said. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but we have high standards, and we want to meet those standards.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.