Football teams brace for I-A league play

It’s easy for outsiders to look at a 4-0 start for Boulder City High’s football team as a big deal.

Eagles coach Alex Kazel knows better.

League play in Division I-A begins Friday, including a crucial Sunrise League game in which Boulder City visits Desert Pines (2-2) at 7 p.m.

While being undefeated is nice, Kazel said his program isn’t putting much stock in its start because league games determine who reaches the postseason. The top four teams in each of the new I-A leagues reach the playoffs.

“The kids all know that the wins count for nothing as far as our playoff chances go,” Kazel said. “This is our first league game. These are the games that matter as far as the playoffs go.”

Boulder City has relied on an impressive rushing attack that showcases several players, including D.J. Koopman and Xavier Steel, who both have topped 400 yards rushing through four games.

The Eagles have backed their offense with a stout defense, which flexed its muscle in a 51-0 home win over Clark last week.

“As far as being more physical, linemen getting off the ball and our defense tackling, our execution’s getting better,” Kazel said.

Desert Pines got off to an 0-2 start but has responded with two straight wins, including last week’s 62-16 rout of Pahrump Valley. The Jaguars rushed for 419 yards and seven touchdowns in the win, including a 212-yard, three-touchdown effort from Eric Wilkes.

“They’ve definitely got speed in that backfield,” Kazel said.

Kazel said the Eagles have “a long way to go,” but there are plenty of positives.

“If you don’t believe you can win when you step on the field, you don’t stand a chance,” he said. “These kids truly believe they can win when they step on the field.”

■ ELITE KICKER – Las Vegas High’s Jay Mattox has drawn a national ranking of No. 13 among senior kicker prospects from Chris Sailer Kicking, a talent evaluation service for special teams players.

Fans will have the chance to watch him when the Wildcats (1-1) visit Cimarron-Memorial (2-1) at 8 p.m. today in a game that will be televised on Cable 12.

■ SOCCER RANKINGS – Green Valley’s girls soccer team is ranked No. 25 in the nation in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.

Green Valley is No. 4 in the girls Region VI poll, and Palo Verde is eighth.

In the Region VIII boys poll, Centennial is ranked No. 7, and Las Vegas checks in at No. 9.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @tristanaird.

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