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FIELDER’S CHOICES: Liberty, Desert Pines battling to be No. 2

We’re No. 2! We’re No. 2!

The unofficial Clark County School District football title game takes place when Desert Pines visits six-time defending Sunrise Region champion Liberty at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The winner earns the right to be ranked behind Bishop Gorman for the remainder of the season.

The Jaguars (3-0) are No. 4 in the Southern Nevada Football Coaches Poll and defeated No. 5 Centennial in the “semifinals” during Week 1. Second-ranked Liberty (2-0) edged Arbor View in the other “semifinal” to set up this showdown of public school powerhouses.

I planned to ask Desert Pines coach Tico Rodriguez and Liberty coach Rich Muraco about the matchup this week, but they didn’t answer my phone calls. That’s how I know this is a big game.

I’m still a little jet-lagged after my trip to Hawaii (more on that later), but I’m ready to continue my hot streak of picks.

■ Desert Pines at Liberty (Thursday) —This is an opportunity for Jaguars senior Isaiah Morris to state his case as the state’s best running back. Morris is averaging 14 yards every time he touches the ball, and the speedster no doubt will be the focal point of Liberty’s defense.

The Patriots had a week to come down from their titanic road win over Westlake (Texas) and now face a classic look-ahead spot with a showdown at nationally ranked Corona (California) Centennial looming on the horizon. That game won’t matter much if Liberty can’t win this one. … Liberty by 7.

■ Centennial at Las Vegas — I’m not sure either of these teams can stop a running faucet, so get ready for points galore, baby! The Bulldogs are averaging 45.0 points and 473.2 yards behind QB Jamaal Evans, who probably would be the state player of the year if the award was handed out after three weeks.

On the topic of QBs, the Wildcats have made the two-quarterback system work like the 1996 Ohio State Buckeyes. Zach Matlock and Ronnie Broadhead have accounted for seven touchdowns in two games, but this is one of the rare times that 1 > 2. … Centennial by 5½.

■ Faith Lutheran at Silverado — The warm-up acts are done, and now it’s time for the Crusaders to hit the main stage for their Class 4A reunion tour. Faith Lutheran appears to have settled on Sagan Gronauer at QB, and the sophomore should benefit from the extra week of preparation.

The Skyhawks scored two defensive TDs last week against Desert Oasis after pitching a shutout in their opener. I guess Silverado coach Randall Cunningham learned a thing or two about defense while playing for Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia. … Silverado by 2.

Kahuku at Bishop Gorman (Saturday) — I promised a scouting report on the Red Raiders after my trip to Hawaii, but all I learned from Kahuku’s 83-0 win last week is the “Pride of the North Shore” has some amazing fans. In fact, they probably could have moved this game to Sam Boyd Stadium and drawn more spectators than Bobby Hauck’s UNLV teams did.

Kahuku sold its allotment of 2,000 tickets in 45 minutes, and the “Ninth Island” is gathering Thursday night on Fremont Street for a huge pep rally complete with Hawaiian performances, a reggae band and a Haka warrior dance by the Red Raiders players. It should be a fun time. Too bad Kahuku’s 18-game winning streak has to end. … Gorman by 20.

■ Palo Verde at Foothill — I asked the Stats and Info Dept. to find something good about the winless Panthers, since, as Cimarron-Memorial grad Brandon Marshall said this week, “I’m here to spread love and positivity.” Here’s what they came up with: Palo Verde joins Arbor View and Bishop Gorman as the only teams in the Sunset Region with at least three players who have rushed for more than 100 yards.

Good one, eh?

The Falcons’ ground game hasn’t gotten out of first gear lately, as they’ve rushed for 105 yards in the past two games combined. They should surpass that total this week. … Foothill by 4.

■ Legacy at Coronado — The Longhorns take a step up in competition after beating two Class 3A squads to open the season and can match the program’s best start since 2009 with a victory. Man, the Stats and Info Dept. is crushing it.

One last nugget from the Stats and Info Dept.: The Cougars are the only Class 4A team to shut out its second opponent after getting blanked in the opener. OK, that one is kind of a reach. … Coronado by .

■ Cheyenne at Cimarron-Memorial — The northern rivals have split their past eight meetings, including a 38-0 victory by the Desert Shields last season. Cheyenne held Spartans running back Tyree Riley to 135 yards in that game, but he will have more this time around. … Cimarron by 5.

■ Boulder City at Valley — This is more of a fair fight for the Vikings, who have dropped 21 consecutive games and were overmatched in their first three contests.

Boulder City unleashed running back Thorston Balmer in the second half of last week’s loss to Pahrump Valley, and the sophomore finished with 79 yards on 12 carries, including a 49-yard run. Good thing Chris Berman doesn’t do local prep football highlights or he’d call him “Tuffnut” Thorston Balmer. … Valley by 1.

Last week: 7-1, 6-2 (with points)

Season: 20-4, 18-6 (with points)

Contact Fielder at Fielder@nevadapreps.com. Follow him: @FielderNVP

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