League: Division I-A Sunrise
Head coach: Brent Lewis, 14th season
2014 record: 13-0 (6-0 Sunrise, first)
Returning lettermen: 18
Returning starters: Six offense, six defense
Base offensive set: Wing T/Spread
Base defensive set: 4-4
Top offensive players: WR/RB R.J. Hubert (Sr.); QB Nate Cox (Sr.); TE/WR Jay Mortensen (Sr.); RB Sterling Simmons (Sr.); FB Trystin Deal (Sr.)
Top defensive players: LB Trystin Deal (Sr.); CB/S R.J. Hubert (Sr.); S Jay Mortensen (Sr.); CB Derek Cope (Sr.); DT/DE Garrett Rose (Sr.); DT/LB Bo Redd (Sr.)
Key losses: QB Zach Hymas; WR Cole Mulcock; RB Kaleb Bodily
Outlook: Realignment may have moved the Pirates from Class 3A to Division I-A in recent years, but whatever they call the classification, Moapa Valley has consistently been one of the state’s top teams.
The Pirates have advance to the state title game in eight of the last nine seasons, claiming three titles, including the I-A crown last season.
Graduation took away key players, including all-state picks Hymas and Mulcock. Hymas passed for 2,159 yards and 26 TDs with just four interceptions, and Mulcock was the team’s leading receiver with 62 catches for 1,149 yards and 12 TDs.
But the return of two-way all-state player Hubert gives the team a building block. He’s an explosive receiver, who had 49 catches for 964 yards and 14 TDs. He may see time at running back this season as the Pirates try to get more touches for their top player.
“R.J. Hubert will play a heavy role in the offense and be a big-time threat to score each time he touches the ball,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the team returns three experienced linemen, but the key to the offense may be Cox, who passed for 706 yards and eight TDs with two interceptions last year in spelling Hymas. Cox got starting experience when Hymas was out with an injury.
“He will be key to our success,” Lewis said.
On defense, Hubert had 71 tackles and six interceptions and will key the secondary, along with Cope, who also picked off six passes.
Rose, who had 54 tackles and 4½ sacks, will anchor the line.
“Our goal every year is to win a state championship, and we feel like with a little luck we have the guys that can compete for another championship,” Lewis said.