Can you smell the turf yet?
It’s high school football season again, and that means you’re stuck with me for another year.
You’d better be ready, because I’ve been practicing prognosticating. Eric’s been burning his dad’s frequent-flier miles, and Skeet’s been spending all day at the skate park, ignoring me all summer.
Sure, I got to hang with Rebel-net Joey at the adidas Super 64. And while it’s hard to beat watching Shabazz Muhammad go up for a jam from the foul line, it’s not the same thrill as what goes on under the Friday Night Lights.
Here are my first picks of the season. Check out Nevadapreps.com for a few more.
I just hope I’m not out of shape. I shouldn’t be. Everyone tells me I still look the same.
Armwood (Fla.) at Bishop Gorman
Pop quiz: What was the first Nevada team to win a game in the Sollenberger Classic in Arizona?
OK, so maybe it’s technically Moapa Valley. But Gorman looked convincing in its rout of Scottsdale’s Chaparral, too.
Shaquille Powell did everything last week: He ran, he grabbed a few passes, and he even picked off Chaparral’s quarterback. I heard he was selling hot dogs at halftime, too.
A friend at Rivals.com told me Armwood is ranked No. 5 in the country (Gorman’s only No. 7). And it comes from Florida, where football is a religion.
Hawks star running back Matt Jones won’t be at this sermon, though; he’s injured.
Get there early, or just watch this one on ESPN2 ... Gorman by 7.
Arbor View at Liberty
Arbor View had its best season in school history last year, with losses to only Palo Verde and Gorman.
Roderick Eason is back, which means the Aggies should be ready to run, run and run some more.
But Liberty has six offensive starters back from last year’s Sunrise title winner and returns an O-line that averages 250 pounds — before lunch — at each spot.
P.J. Taeao and the rest of the offensive line give the Patriots the edge ... Liberty by 6.
Palo Verde at Canyon Springs
One of Palo Verde’s only weaknesses last year was geography. Being in the same region as Gorman isn’t good for anyone.
The Panthers have four offensive starters back, but none of them is all-everything running back Brandon Wright.
Canyon Springs had a great season last year, but there are plenty of holes that need to be patched in North Las Vegas. Can Donnel Pumphrey improve on his 1,000-yard season and help the Pioneers keep pace?
This game can’t hurt the Pioneers as they try to get stronger.
But it might not help much, either ... Palo Verde by 10.
Cimarron-Memorial at Basic
Cimarron isn’t used to sitting out the postseason, but because of its Spartan lineup, that’s what happened last year.
They might be able to rebound with a new coach. But it won’t be easy; Gerard Martinez will have to look more like the freshman who led The Meadows to the Class 2A state title than last year’s junior quarterback.
It was hard to predict Basic’s late-season collapse after a 4-1 start last year, and the Wolves still have to replace quarterback Vince Carducci.
Wideout Darien Spencer is still the best player on the field, though ... Basic by 3.
Del Sol at Rancho
The Dragons were forced back to the ground last year after their state title run, but feature one of the more prolific running backs in the valley in Chris Marshall.
Rancho doesn’t have a signature back anymore, but has a solid quarterback in Will Gosse-Gardet.
Ground games win ball games ... Del Sol by 16.
Silverado at Bonanza
Bonanza was one of the top offensive teams last year, with Desean Martin and Sterling Sprau helping the Bengals average 38.4 points per game.
Unfortunately, Bonanza’s opponents were even better offensively as the Bengals’ defense gave up more than 40 points per game, and Bonanza struggled to a 5-5 record.
Martin and Sprau are gone, but the defense has to be better, right?
Savon Moniz helps Silverado slide into a 1-0 start ... Silverado by 14.
Valley at Virgin Valley
I can’t remember why this game had to be moved to Mesquite, but it may have to do with the pregame meal at Sierra’s Buffet.
Or maybe it was so the Bulldogs could have home field advantage. What can Humberto Urias do in his backyard?
It won’t matter. Line play will be key here ... Valley by 9.
Boulder City at The Meadows
The Eagles look pretty tough on the defensive front, with James Morgan leading the way.
The Mustangs, though, have this quarterback named Garrett Gosse. You might have heard of him if you follow football ... or basketball ... or baseball.
Fortunately for Boulder City, size matters.
Just not enough ... The Meadows by 17.