Del Sol has had football teams with more hype, more experience and more star power.
But there was one thing no Dragons team had done until this season: beat Las Vegas High.
Now the Dragons face almost as big a task: coming back down to earth for the start of Southeast League play.
Eight days after stunning perennial power and Sunrise Region nemesis Las Vegas 33-28, Del Sol (3-0) hosts Foothill (2-1) at 7 tonight in the league opener for both teams.
"We’re coming off a big win. We have a young team, and I just hope we don’t get too big-headed and just stay prepared for the game," senior offensive guard/defensive end Sam Chandler said. "Foothill’s a good team."
Las Vegas had beaten Del Sol in the last three Sunrise Region championship games. The last two meetings were decided by a total of 10 points.
And not only did this year’s Del Sol team beat the Wildcats, it beat them on the road with a team that returned just one offensive starter.
"They’re used to winning, especially at home," Del Sol coach Preston Goroff said. "It’s like going in and playing the Patriots at home. They just don’t lose. For us to do that was huge for us.
"But we’ve done our celebrating, and league is coming."
That’s a message Goroff has clearly given to his team.
"Valley, Rancho and Vegas, even though they’re, like, confidence boosters, they really don’t mean nothing to our season," Chandler said. "These league games, that’s what actually makes us or breaks us."
Though Del Sol had made it to the Sunrise title game the last three years, expectations were somewhat tempered this season.
Along with the one returning offensive starter, Del Sol had just four starters back on defense. And the school’s younger programs didn’t appear ready to provide a quick influx of talent. The junior varsity went 5-4 last season, and the freshman team was 0-9.
The Dragons lost two 1,000-yard rushers from last season, but senior Dezerick Reed has stepped in and rushed for 394 yards and five touchdowns. He also has 61/2 sacks and has returned an interception for a TD.
Goroff said the success is due mainly to dedication.
"Although it’s a game, it’s something that you’ve really got to commit yourself to, and that’s what I would say a large portion of our success has been attributed to," Goroff said. "The kids put everything they’ve got into it."
And though the team is trying to put the Las Vegas win behind it and focus on the future, beating the Wildcats clearly helped Del Sol’s confidence.
"I’ve been through a losing streak all my life," said senior Ashton Cacho, a transfer from Eldorado. "To finally get a win like that, it feels good. In my mind, I don’t ever have to think about losing anymore.
"I don’t ever have second thoughts. I just believe and do everything I can and accomplish everything I can for the team."
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587.In-depth high school sports coverage
All games 7 p.m., unless noted
Round Mountain at Spring Mountain, 3 p.m.
Laughlin at Henderson International, 3:30 p.m.
Cheyenne at Arbor View
Cimarron-Memorial at Centennial
Faith Lutheran at Mojave
Palo Verde at Shadow Ridge
Bonanza at Pahrump Valley
Clark at Western
Durango at Spring Valley
Eldorado at Canyon Springs
Desert Pines at Chaparral
Las Vegas at Valley
Coronado at Basic
Foothill at Del Sol
Green Valley at Liberty
Legacy at Virgin Valley
Sierra Vista at Silverado
Moapa Valley at Rancho
Sunrise Mountain at Boulder City
Mountain View at The Meadows
Beatty at Indian Springs