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Raiders boost good neighbor policy by hosting state title games

Updated November 17, 2021 - 4:26 pm

Before that Jake guy from the TV commercials starting hanging out with Patrick Mahomes, the insurance company he works for was better known for being a good neighbor.

According to the familiar jingle, State Farm always was there.

But with Jake now spending most of his time spotting the Chiefs’ quarterback in the weight room, the Raiders have borrowed a page from his good neighbor playbook.

When it recently was brought to the Raiders’ attention that most of this year’s high school state championship football games would be played at Centennial High School because Sam Boyd Stadium no longer is serviceable, the Raiders offered the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association use of Allegiant Stadium.

If the NIAA was willing to work around Friday night’s UNLV game against San Diego State and Sunday afternoon’s Raiders-Bengals matchup, it could play its Class 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A title games Thursday in the spectacular domicile with the translucent roof.

As for joining AT&T Stadium in Texas and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana among NFL facilities that host high school championships, it’s only a one-year arrangement for now. But multiple sources said the high school kids got a much better deal than a Discount Double Check.

Supporting local youth

“We try to be a good partner in the community and, in particular, being supportive of local athletes,” Raiders president Dan Ventrelle said of the front office jumping in at short notice to provide the high school players and their families with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I just feel like there’s no better way we could express that support than to have these local athletes play the biggest games of their high school careers in that building.”

Naturally, there were wisecracks about Bishop Gorman, which will play McQueen of Reno for the 5A trophy at 12:20 p.m., having to step down a notch to play at Allegiant. But that certainly won’t be the case for 3A rivals Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley, who earlier this season were forced to play in a public park in Mesquite while their new turf fields were being installed.

NIAA interim executive director Donnie Nelson said the Raiders making Allegiant available not only will provide the players with a thrill bigger than the stadium’s seating capacity but also filled a huge void given Sam Boyd Stadium’s closure.

“We lost that facility, and knowing that, we were scheduling high schools to host our games — which is great, we have some wonderful venues both in Southern Nevada and the Northern Nevada area,” Nelson said about the rotating state championship sites.

“(But) very thankful the Las Vegas Raiders stepped up. The Raiders are rolling out the red carpet. It is going to be a tremendous experience for our student athletes, coaches and officials.

“And hopefully for our fans as well.”

Not all approve

As hard as this seems to fathom, the NIAA felt it necessary to issue an email this week to defend its decision to move the majority of its championship games from Centennial on Saturday to Allegiant Stadium on Thursday.

The switch will make it more difficult for parents to circumvent work schedules to attend. Some also complained about the early starting times for the 2A (9 a.m.) and 5A games (12:20 p.m.) that will give Northern teams a jump on returning home and preclude them from having to spend another night in a hotel.

But if you ask the players, the trade-off for getting to play in the Raiders’ spectacular stadium far outweighs any inconvenience of having to show up at an early or unusual hour Thursday.

That was the first thing many of them mentioned after victories in last week’s semifinals.

“It’s awesome,” said running back Jaquieze Holland after rushing for 209 yards and three touchdowns to lead Shadow Ridge past Las Vegas and into a rematch with undefeated Silverado for the 4A title.

“It will feel like I’m in the NFL.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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