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Prep football coaches ‘frustrated’ with system to clear players

Eighteen high school football teams finally got to play their first game of the 2023 season after their Week 1 games were canceled last week due to weather.

But many players are still left on the sidelines while they wait for the all-clear to play. It’s leaving coaches frustrated by not having players eligible even though they say their players have completed the necessary steps.

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the governing body of high school sports in the state, uses Aktivate/Register My Athlete, an online system players must register in to be eligible for athletic competition.

“The people that are supposed to be clearing them aren’t getting it done, and kids have turned everything in,” Desert Pines coach Tico Rodriguez said. “As coaches, it makes us frustrated and it puts the kids in danger because we’re playing in 100-degree weather with 30 to 35 kids. I’m frustrated with the process, and we have to find a better, more streamlined way to do it.”

Desert Pines had 35 players dressed in its 38-13 win at Faith Lutheran and needed several key players to play both ways to combat its low numbers, including running back and UNLV commit Greg Burrell, who played defensive end. The Jaguars had to cancel their junior varsity game with the Crusaders after only having 15 of 45 players cleared.

“It’s been taking weeks for the kids to get cleared,” Centennial coach DJ Campbell said. “(Our players) will turn in a document, they say that’s what you need, and then something else comes back and they say you need this. It’s frustrating.”

Campbell said he has “quite a few players” in his program who aren’t cleared. Campbell said he found out one of his starting cornerbacks was not eligible to play two days before the Bulldogs’ season opener last week even though the player’s online paperwork was completed in May.

Campbell said other coaches around the city are struggling with waiting for players to get cleared, with many of their statuses in the system saying “transfer pending.”

“These kids just want to play ball and this new Aktivate/Register My Athlete system has created so many hurdles for kids that want to do something positive,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know how we fix it, but it’s hurting communities like ours.”

Bulldogs building

Centennial won just one game in the past two seasons after reaching the Class 4A state title game in 2019 and went winless last season.

Two games into the 2023 season, the Bulldogs have already surpassed their win total from the past two seasons with Campbell in his first year as coach.

Centennial held off Class 5A Division III opponent Palo Verde for a 26-20 win Friday after opening its season with a 41-20 win over King/Drew (California) on Aug. 19 to begin the season 2-0.

“I told them (the Palo Verde game) was going to be a tough, physical game,” Campbell said. “It was an identity game for us. The toughest team was going to win, and my boys were tough (on Friday) night. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

The former NFL defensive back credited the Bulldogs’ offensive line for stepping “up to the challenge.”

Campbell said one of his biggest goals was getting his players to learn to battle through adversity, and he said he’s seen his players display perseverance they didn’t have the last two seasons.

After spending the last two seasons in 5A, the Bulldogs look like the clear favorite in the new 4A.

“It lets us know that we’re heading in the right direction,” Campbell said of the 2-0 start. “Centennial has always had the players, but we just need to rebuild the confidence and reassure them. We’re not scared of anyone. We want the competition.”

Up next

Bishop Gorman, ranked No.2 nationally by MaxPreps, plays its home opener against No. 6 Miami Central (Florida) at 7 p.m. Friday. The Gaels (2-0) rolled past Long Beach Poly in a 60-15 win at the Nike Kickoff Classic. Miami Central went 14-0 last season.

Liberty will host a doubleheader as part of the Island Classic. The Patriots play the nightcap against Campbell (Hawaii) at 7 p.m. Desert Pines (1-0) opens the event against St. Louis (Hawaii) at 4 p.m.

Las Vegas hosts Rancho in “The Bone Game” at 6 p.m. The Wildcats have won the last 25 meetings of the state’s oldest high school football rivalry game. Other notable games include Coronado at Durango, Silverado at Foothill and Canyon Springs at Legacy, all at 6 p.m.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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