Thursday Night Lights Game
Cheyenne at Basic — The Desert Shields went 5-5 last season, but did win four league games and hosted a playoff game. The bad news for them is that in the three pre-league games against Class 4A Sunrise Region opponents, they were outscored 114-34 in losses to Foothill, Canyon Springs and Coronado.
The Wolves had no problem putting points on the board last season, but lost quarterback Aaron McAllister and top receivers Frank Harris and De’Shawn Eagles to graduation. It’s a big hit to an air-raid offense that had a leading rusher with just 263 yards last season.
It looks like a mismatch on paper would the game have been played last year, but a brand new Basic offense will need to need to find a way to gel in the first game of the 2017 season in order to come out with a win.
Games of the Week
DeMatha Catholic (Maryland) at Bishop Gorman — The three-time defending national champs did not do themselves any favors in scheduling to begin the season. The Stags went undefeated in 2016 and finished ranked No. 4 in the USA Today final rankings.
The Gaels lose the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year in Tate Martell, but return the top two returning pass catchers, the No. 2 returning quarterback and top defensive player in Southern Nevada, according to Nevada Preps’ rankings.
The key to the Gaels may be quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. He has not started a game at quarterback in his career, but is already ranked as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback recruit in the nation by Scout, and is already committed to UCLA. Fans will see quickly just how ready he is to step out of Martell’s shadow.
“Every single one of them,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said of which game he has his eye on this season. “DeMatha right away, they’re all pretty damn scary right away to be honest.”
Saguaro (Arizona) at Liberty — The Patriots held a national ranking last season and want top make sure they are right back there in 2017. The Sabercats are one of Arizona’s top programs, winning the last four state championships and nine of the last 11 to go along with a 25-game winning streak.
But the Patriots feel they are ready. They’ve won the last seven Sunrise Region championships, and Kenyon Oblad is back for his senior year under center, and who steps up as his go-to targets could determine if the Patriots are a really good high school football team, or just a really good Nevada high school football team.
“I feel we match up well with Saguaro,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “They had 17 or 18 Division I kids last year and they lost most of those guys. Their quarterback comes back, and he’s a dual-threat guy. We want to challenge ourselves right out.”
Faith Lutheran at Valor Christian (Colorado) — The Crusaders did not miss a beat moving up to the higher division in 2016, winning a playoff game before running into the Gorman buzzsaw. In 2017, they might be even better, and Valor will give them an early litmus test.
The Eagles won a state championship last year after playing a brutal out-of-state schedule. Luke McCaffrey, brother of NFL running back Christian, led the team in receiving last year, but is positioned to move to quarterback after his brother Dylan went to Michigan.
The Crusaders return Sagan Gronauer at quarterback and wideout Elijah Kothe, who has committed to San Diego State. The pair hooked up for 10 touchdowns this year, and could be one of the best quarterback-receiver combos in the state this season.