CLASS 3A SOUTHERN LEAGUE
■ Coach: Alex Kazel, fourth season
■ 2010 record: 4-6 (0-2 3A Southern)
■ Returning starters: six offense, six defense
■ Top players: QB Thomas Shelley (Sr.); RB Tyler Washburn (Sr.); WB Dustin Mantia (Sr.); G Billy Rotroff (Sr.); DT James Morgan (Sr.); LB Michael Kelso (Jr.); DE Billy Barth (Jr.); DE D.J. Koopman (Jr.); S Kaeden Gonzalez (Sr.)
■ Outlook: Kazel said he has a young team that he hopes can learn in a hurry.
"We're going to be young," he said. "The faster the kids come along, the better we'll be."
Like last season, the defensive line figures to be a strength. The Eagles will rely heavily on Morgan, a shot-put star who earned Class 3A second-team all-state honors as a defensive lineman last season after recording 42 tackles.
■ Coach: Brent Lewis, 10th season
■ 2010 record: 7-5 (2-0 3A Southern)
■ Returning starters: six offense, six defense
■ Top players: QB/S Dakota Watters (Sr.); RB/LB Conner Mortensen (Jr.); RB/LB Kasen Hughes (Jr.); RB/S Sean McConnell (Jr.); RB/LB Dakota Gordon (Sr.); C Kyler Leavitt (Jr.); G Lane Stringham (Sr.); G Taylor Schwartz (Sr.); OT Lee Gamboa (Sr.); OT/DL Logan Hanevold (Sr.); WR Shane Terril (Sr.)
■ Outlook: Very good, judging by the Pirates' season opener.
Moapa Valley began the season Saturday with a 28-26 victory over defending Arizona Class 3A state champion Show Low in the Sollenberger Classic.
The Pirates have played in five straight Nevada 3A state title games, winning in 2007 and 2008, and appear to have the talent to make another postseason run.
Moapa Valley was hit hard by graduation at the skill positions, but Lewis feels good about a solid rotation of running backs and the continued development of Watters. The senior has taken the place of Kelan Weiss, who graduated after he took 3A first-team all-state honors under center in 2010.
The Pirates should be buoyed by a veteran offensive line that Lewis thinks can pave the way for Mortensen, Hughes, McConnell and Gordon.
"Last year we were a throw-first team, and it will probably be the opposite this year," Lewis said. "We'll probably run until we get more experience. We're probably as deep as we've ever been at running back. I've got four solid kids I can count on to hand the ball off to."
■ Coach: Kirk Hafen, 21st season
■ 2010 record: 7-3 (1-1 3A Southern)
■ Returning starters: three offense, three defense
■ Top players: QB/LB Humberto Urias (Sr.); TE/LB Nolan Tanner (Sr.); RB/DB Dee Bowler (So.)
■ Outlook: The Bulldogs returned to their winning ways last season, going 7-3 and reaching the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
Virgin Valley is young, but a big reason for last season's success returns in Urias, who was a threat passing (1,222 yards and 16 touchdowns) and rushing (465 yards, four TDs). Bowler also emerged as a force in the backfield late after joining the varsity team.
"We just need to find a line that will block for them now," Hafen said. "We're working hard on that aspect."
Despite the youth, Hafen is optimistic about Virgin Valley's chances to make a postseason run.
"These are hard-nosed kids," he said. "It's going to be a good year again for us."
CLASS 2A SOUTHERN LEAGUE
■ Coach: Colt Goodman, fifth season
■ 2010 record: 7-3 (6-1 2A Southern)
■ Returning starters: seven offense, six defense
■ Top players: QB/RB/CB Terrell Kemp (Sr.); OT/NT Adrian Huling (Sr.); QB/WR Curtis Watson (Sr.); G Jamal Holmes (Sr.); OLB Imy Florence (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Stars will try to build on their breakthrough season of a year ago, when they logged their first winning record at the 11-man level and reached the Class 2A state semifinals.
"It will take some work to match last year," Goodman said. "We will start four ninth-graders on both sides of the ball. But our goal is the playoffs."
Agassi Prep will have to replace running back DeVonn Porter (Chadron State) and cornerback LeShaun Sims (Southern Utah), who are off to college football.
But the Stars can build around Huling, who was named 2A Southern League Lineman of the Year as a junior. Agassi Prep also returns Kemp, a dual-threat quarterback who rushed for 422 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 992 yards and 13 TDs last year.
Kemp's favorite target could be Watson, a big-play threat with size and speed who had 297 yards and five TDs on only 11 receptions last season.
■ Coach: David Tautofi, first season
■ 2010 record: 1-8 (1-6 2A Southern)
■ Returning starters: unavailable
■ Top players: WR/DE Bobby Buist (Sr.); OT/DT Steven Shigley (Sr.); QB/RB/LB A.J. Davis (Jr.); WR/LB Seth Kreilick (So.); G/DT Kamen Kreilick (Jr.)
■ Outlook: Tautofi, a former UCLA defensive end who served as a Calvary Chapel assistant last season, has taken over as coach and is optimistic with a program-record 26 players in camp.
Calvary Chapel must replace quarterback Cody Taylor and receiver Cody Moreno, who had been playmakers for the Lions their entire careers, but Tautofi is excited about the team's balance.
"We're under the radar with these kids," Tautofi said. "I think these players are hidden gems."
Buist, Shigley, Davis and both Kreilicks help form a defensive front that Tautofi said will "anchor" the Lions.
■ Coach: Jason Leonard, sixth season
■ 2010 record: 2-7 (0-7 2A Southern)
■ Returning starters: seven offense, seven defense
■ Top players: RB Colton Hill (Jr.); FB Averie Prosise (Jr.); OL JuQuan Lakes (Jr.); OL Aaron Calvin (Sr.); MLB Jackson Walton (Sr.); OLB Jake Hodges (Jr.); FS Corey Beggs (Jr.); CB Bobby Day (Jr.); CB Christian Avery (So.); CB Justin Quibell (So.)
■ Outlook: The Cougars endured an injury-plagued season in their first year at the 11-man level, going winless in the Class 2A Southern League last year.
On top of that, Laughlin must replace Andre Prosise, the team's leading passer and rusher from last season.
Hill will see an increased workload after he rushed for 291 yards as a sophomore and will be a building block at linebacker after he made 44 tackles last season.
■ Coach: Frank DeSantis, 11th season
■ 2010 record: 5-5 (5-2 2A Southern)
■ Returning starters: eight offense, nine defense
■ Top players: QB Garrett Gosse (Sr.); WR Max Newman (Sr.); WR Richard Lee (Sr.); OL Steve Gibson (Sr.); LB Torrey Mayes (Sr.); CB Taylor Beck (Sr.); LB Anthony Gord (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Mustangs are about as good as any other Class 2A team in the state when it comes to skill-position talent, but they must improve on the line of scrimmage if they are to return to the form of the state title teams in 2008 and 2009.
Newcomer Jim Jimmerson could help in that capacity, and increased depth and experience figures to boost The Meadows' offensive line.
Gosse, a three-sport star, is back at the controls of an explosive passing attack after he threw for 2,565 yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior.
DeSantis said the Mustangs are working on improving their fundamentals and becoming a more balanced team early this season.
■ Coach: Ray LeBoeuf, sixth season
■ 2010 record: 7-6 (4-3 2A Southern)
■ Returning starters: six offense, seven defense
■ Top players: WR/QB/OLB Trevor Van Kempen (Sr.); RB/CB Jacob Duldulao (So.); RB/WR/LB Elijah Armstrong (Jr.); G/MLB Joshua Killam (Sr.); G/DE Henry Santos (Sr.); WR/DB Matthew Larson (So.)
■ Outlook: Mountain View has finished each season strong since moving to the 11-man level in 2008, reaching the Class 2A state semifinals each year along with last season's state title game.
The Saints have a little rebuilding to do after their 14-12 loss to Pershing County in last year's state final, but a strong core of talent returns.
The versatile Van Kempen and newcomer Travis Wallace are sharing quarterback reps early in practice. Van Kempen will be counted on to help fill the void left by the graduation of star quarterback T.J. Engel and dynamic receiver Justyn Anderson.
"You're looking at 70 percent of our offense, as far as numbers," LeBoeuf said of the graduated duo.
It will help having back Duldulao, who rushed for 934 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman.
Mountain View's defensive front looks strong with Killam (132 tackles in 2010) and Santos (85 tackles, five sacks) returning. Both were all-state picks last year.
"(Killam) is definitely the leader of our defense. He's a significant help for us," LeBoeuf said.
Mountain View will test itself with four straight road games to start the season.
CLASS 1A SOUTHERN LEAGUE
■ Coach: Sope Faga, 18th season
■ 2010 record: 7-3 (4-1 1A Southern)
■ Returning starters: four offense, four defense
■ Top players: WR/DB Xavier Pena (Sr.); RB/S Devin Jackson (Jr.); OL/DE Brock Roadhouse (Sr.); C/G/DT Junior Faga (So.); QB Troy Heath (So.)
■ Outlook: The Thunderbirds lost one of the most prolific quarterbacks in school history in Adam Reinke, but several of his playmakers return.
Pena and Jackson bring speed on the outside, and Roadhouse and Faga key a talented offensive line.
Heath managed the game in place of an injured Reinke in the second half of a Class 1A state quarterfinal win over Spring Mountain last season, and Sope Faga said he has "a lot of confidence" in the sophomore taking over full time for Reinke.
"I think we're actually better than the team we had last year," Sope Faga said. "We gained a year of experience for our kids to go out there and compete."
■ Coach: Harlan Aranaydo, second season
■ 2010 record: 2-5 (independent)
■ Returning starters: six offense, six defense
■ Top players: RB/MLB Randal Spencer (Sr.); QB/CB Ryan Hagan (Sr.); G/DE Brandon Hughes (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Sidewinders showed signs of progress last season, blowing out Lund 77-13 in the season finale to finish 2-5 against an independent schedule. Sandy Valley also shut out Baker (Calif.) and hung with Tonopah.
Couple that progress with the fact that a program-record 16 players are out for the team this season, and Aranaydo is optimistic as the team transitions back to the Class 1A Southern League.
"I'm excited. I think we can do something this year," he said. "(The players) have a totally different attitude now. We put more competitiveness in them, and they have the drive to win. It's a whole different perspective."
Sandy Valley will have a huge hurdle in its second game of the season: Pahranagat Valley, which has won 34 straight games and the past three 1A state championships.
■ Coach: Aaron Masden, fourth season
■ 2010 record: 6-3 (3-2 1A Southern)
■ Returning starters: none
■ Top players: QB/SS/CB Meiyako Williams (Jr.); WR/LB/KR/P Leroy Freeman (Sr.); G/NT Damion Johnwell (Sr.); RB/KR Price Powell (Jr.); K Michael Caruso (Jr.); LB Jaytraveonte Davis (So.); LB Alexander Soriano (Sr.)
■ Outlook: Masden said the Eagles look forward to being competitive in the Class 1A Southern League thanks to a good mix of size, speed and dedication to learn the game.
Spring Mountain never has returning players because students are in the Clark County Department of Juvenile Justice Services program and typically spend an average of six months at the youth camp.
Despite the constant rebuilding, the Eagles have made the playoffs each of the past two seasons.