Rancho quarterback Will Gosse-Gardet admits he wasn’t quite ready for prime time when he started the Rams’ first two games last season.
Then again, Rancho’s entire offense left much to be desired, and the team finished 2-8.
But after finishing last season on the junior varsity, Gosse-Gardet has come back strong in his junior year. He has passed for 862 yards and nine touchdowns in six games, helping the Rams to more wins — three — than they had all of last fall.
"Last year I was nervous before every game, and I don’t even feel it anymore," said Gosse-Gardet, who has also rushed for 185 yards and four touchdowns. "I just think about what I have to do."
The Rams (3-3, 2-1 Northeast League) visit Desert Pines (2-3, 2-1) at 7 tonight in what could be a crucial league matchup.
Desert Pines, Eldorado and Rancho are tied for third at 2-1 in the Northeast, and only two of them are likely to secure a playoff spot. Las Vegas and Canyon Springs are tied for first at 3-0.
"We’re pretty much playing for the No. 3 seed now at this point, with Vegas being Vegas and Canyon being who they are," Rancho coach Elvin Dick said.
Dick said Gosse-Gardet went unbeaten with the junior varsity last season and wasted no time taking control of the quarterback position in fall practice.
"In our first team scrimmage we had in August, it’s like a switch just flipped with him running the option and taking command of the offense," Dick said. "And I knew he was going to do real well."
Senior running back Shamel David is also having a strong season. Despite missing the first two games because of a concussion, he has rushed for 546 yards and six touchdowns.
"We missed him the first two games," Dick said. "He’s a workhorse. He’s really developed into a pretty good running back."
The Rams have gone to a no-huddle offense and appear comfortable with the faster tempo. Last year Rancho scored 115 points and compiled 1,901 yards of offense in 10 games. This year the Rams already have 182 points and 2,037 yards.
Dick admits he’s concerned how his team will fare against a bigger Desert Pines squad. The Jaguars are led by 265-pound senior Tala Atimalala, who has an offer to play at Army. He is joined by 265-pound junior Allen Vaiao and 305-pound senior Cedrick Poutasi.
"Those kids they’ve got up front, they’re beasts," Dick said.
"We’ve struggled against big, physical teams in Arbor View and Canyon (Springs), so we’ve definitely got to play a lot better than we did against those schools, because Desert Pines is another big, physical team up front."
David said the key could be taking the fight to the Jaguars.
"We’ve got to come out and be aggressive," David said. "A team like that, you’ve just got to come out first and hit them in the mouth and make them fold before they can do it to us."
Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587.In-depth high school sports coverage
TODAY’S CLASS 4A FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
All times 7 p.m.
• Arbor View at Cheyenne
• Basic at Legacy
• Bishop Gorman at Western
• Canyon Springs at Eldorado
• Centennial at Cimarron-Memorial
• Chaparral at Valley
• Del Sol at Coronado
• Durango at Sierra Vista
• Foothill at Silverado
• Liberty at Green Valley
• Moapa Valley at Clark
• Mojave at Faith Lutheran
• Rancho at Desert Pines
• Shadow Ridge at Palo Verde
• Sunrise Mountain at Las Vegas