FIELDER’S CHOICES: Best football coaches roster lacking without Rost

Everyone seems to be debating the government shutdown and the “Breaking Bad” series finale this week, but an issue of greater concern is being ignored.

USA Today is running its first “Best High School Football Coach” contest, with eight active coaches from each state nominated for the honor. Fans can vote on their favorite coach now through Tuesday, and the winners of each state — along with Washington, D.C. — then will be divided into eight regions. From there, the regional winners move on to the national round, with voting running from Oct. 21 through Oct. 29.

Southern Nevada is well represented in the state voting with five of the eight nominees: Brent Lewis (Moapa Valley), Frank DeSantis (The Meadows), Ken Higbee (Pahranagat Valley), Rich Muraco (Liberty) and Tony Sanchez (Bishop Gorman).

Notably absent, however, is Palo Verde’s Darwin Rost. Did he cancel his subscription to the newspaper a few years back or complain to its editors about there being too many charts and graphs?

Nothing against the five local coaches who were nominated, because all are deserving of the recognition. But it seems odd to leave Rost off this list.

In 18 seasons with the Panthers, Rost has compiled a record of 139-45. His teams won five Sunset Region titles, along with the 2004 Class 4A state championship, and he’s churned out a slew of college players, one NFL player (Gerard Lawson) and one WWE star (Ryan Reeves, better known as Ryback in the squared circle).

My point is, until Bishop Gorman cornered the market on the state title, it always seemed to run through Las Vegas High, McQueen or the school on South Pavilion Center Drive. And that’s almost entirely because of Rost.

Who knows? Maybe the folks at USA Today are allergic to the double-wing offense.

Rost might have been overlooked, but my picks certainly aren’t. I was nearly perfect last week — that’s the last time I’m going against Faith Lutheran and first-year coach Vernon Fox — and hopefully I can continue my hot streak. Don’t forget to check out for the rest of this week’s picks.

■ Booker T. Washington (Fla.) at Bishop Gorman — It’s not often that the No. 1 team in the country comes to town, and this is your chance to see about 20 Division I athletes on the same field. It’s too bad the Gaels don’t still have running back Nathan Starks, who was hoping to find out Wednesday whether he would be eligible to play this season at Cherry Creek (Colo.).

The Tornadoes blew in from Miami and are coached by Tim “Ice” Harris. I can’t go against a guy named “Ice.” … Washington by 7.

■ Arbor View at Las Vegas — This matchup reminds me of Paula Abdul. You know, “Opposites Attract.” The Aggies chew up clock with their double-wing offense, while the Wildcats “Rush Rush” and have scored 56, 61 and 70 points in three games against area teams.

The best way to slow down Las Vegas is to keep quarterback Trevor Swenson and Co. on the sideline. Arbor View, which had an extra day to stew over last week’s mistake-filled loss to Legacy, is equipped to do that. “Straight Up.” … Arbor View by 5.

■ Liberty at Coronado — I was tough on the Patriots after that ugly season-opening loss, but it looks like they’ve turned the corner since then. The Cougars, meanwhile, had two weeks to prepare for this one and probably needed it.

This is the Southeast League opener for both teams and should go a long way toward deciding the league title. First team to commit a turnover loses. … Liberty by 10.

■ Canyon Springs at Silverado — The Pioneers are one of two remaining unbeatens in Division I, and last week, coach Hunkie Cooper delivered the quote of the season. “Anytime you can get a 40-yard free run and make contact with somebody, something needs to fly off, either a helmet or the football,” he said.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about! … Canyon Springs by 6.

Last week: 7-1, 7-1 (with points)

Season: 31-9, 27-13 (with points)

Contact Fielder at Follow him on Twitter: @FielderNVP.

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