FIELDER’S CHOICES: Summer’s gone, but league play’s here

Nothing signifies autumn’s arrival more than people needlessly arguing about the merits of pumpkin spice lattes.


But since I don’t drink coffee that tastes like burned leather and potpourri, I had to turn to the prep football schedule to confirm that fall is officially here.

Sure enough, league play in the Class 4A Sunset Region and Class 3A starts this week, the true indicator that summer is done. Even Bishop Gorman is taking a break from irking out-of-state fanbases to play a Southwest League contest against Bonanza. (I didn’t include that game in my picks, but, spoiler alert, Gorman is going to win.)

Unfortunately, it’s not a very exciting slate of league games, so this week’s picks involve Sunrise Region teams, too. Don’t take it personally, west side. It will all even out by the end of the season.

I had a few hiccups straight up and against the points last week, but hopefully I can bounce back.

■ Basic at Canyon Springs — No need to worry about the health of Wolves quarterback Aaron McAllister, who had six touchdown passes last week. Either the injury to his nonthrowing arm wasn’t as bad as originally feared, or he was healed at St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries during Basic’s bye week.

The Pioneers are tougher to figure out than Young Thug’s lyrics. One week, they shut out Coronado, and the next they struggle to contain a Class 3A squad. Say it with me: “In-con-sis-tent.” (Clap … clap … clapclapclap.) … Basic by 6.

■ Liberty at Corona (California) Centennial — The Patriots made the 3½-hour trip down Interstate 15 to SoCal in 2013 and proved they can hang with powerhouse Centennial, putting up 513 yards in a 60-42 loss. Liberty, arguably, is even more talented on offense this season.

The Huskies are ranked No. 12 by USA Today, nine spots ahead of Liberty, and average 48.8 points per game. Imagine how explosive they’d be had Tyjon Lindsey stayed at the school instead of returning to Bishop Gorman. … Centennial by 10.

■ Shadow Ridge at Las Vegas — These teams have as many losses combined as I have homecoming dates: zero. The Mustangs already surpassed last season’s win total and are off to their best start since 2010, while Las Vegas is 3-0 for the first time since coach James Thurman’s rookie season in 2011.

The Wildcats can become the first team to qualify for the Sunset Region playoffs with a victory. Not really, but it would be the eastsiders’ fourth win this season over a team from the Northwest League. … Las Vegas by 8.

■ Arbor View at Faith Lutheran — I’ve always wondered what the Aggies do on a bye week. Conditioning? Install new blitz packages? They only run five plays on offense, so it’s hard to imagine they need any extra time to work on that.

The Crusaders got manhandled up front in the first half of last week’s loss to Silverado and now face one of the most physical teams in the valley for their Northwest League opener. Welcome back to Class 4A. … Arbor View by 14½.

Pahrump Valley at Desert Pines — This Sunset League game wasn’t originally on my radar, but then the Trojans scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a span of 2:08 to beat Chaparral last week. Now, I have to pay attention.

The Jaguars are smarting after last week’s loss to Liberty in the unofficial Clark County School District title game and probably will look to take out some of their frustration. Just a hunch, but running back Isaiah Morris will get more than 13 touches in this one. … Desert Pines by 28.

Chaparral at Del Sol — Shoutout to the two women who accidentally drove their rental mopeds onto I-15 on Wednesday afternoon and needed an escort from one of those helpful NDOT vans to exit the freeway near Sahara Avenue. The whole scene reminded me of the Cowboys, who were cruising along and enjoying the sights until taking an unexpected detour.

The bright side of Chaparral’s loss last week is the Cowboys allowed only 3.2 yards per carry on 36 rushing attempts by Pahrump Valley. They’ll need a similar effort against Dragons running back Taariq Flowers, who is second in Southern Nevada in rushing with 520 yards. … Chaparral by 9.

Palo Verde at Legacy — Here’s your upset special of the week. Not only am I rolling with the winless Panthers, but I’m also picking them by a healthy margin in the Northwest League opener.

Legacy has been one of Southern Nevada’s most impressive teams this season, starting 3-0 and even dismantling Moapa Valley — last season’s Division I-A state runner-up — by 38 points two weeks ago.

But this is must-win territory for the Panthers (0-3), who played one of the area’s toughest nonleague schedules and are craving a ‘W.’ … Palo Verde by 10.

Centennial at Cimarron-Memorial — You know how the coach’s kid gets all the good stuff? Pitcher in Little League? Go-to guy in basketball? Well, quarterback fits that too, but Jamaal Evans ain’t just the coach’s kid. He’s thrown for eight touchdowns and rushed for six more. And he’s committed to Utah State … as a safety? Huh.

Man, Cimarron can’t catch a break. They got beat up by Las Vegas on Thursday Night Lights two weeks ago (wearing SICK military appreciation jerseys, by the way) then lost to Cheyenne by one last week on a missed field goal. Ouch. King Leonidas’ “300” Spartans weren’t as angry as the ones that will take the field Friday. … Centennial by 24.

Last week: 5-3, 5-3 (with points)

Season: 25-7, 23-9 (with points)

Contact Fielder at Follow him: @FielderNVP

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