Wildcats sprint past Pioneers, secure Northeast’s No. 1 seed

Neither Canyon Springs nor Las Vegas High had been tested since starting Northeast League play.

One team kept that streak intact Friday night.

Hasaan Henderson threw three touchdown passes and ran for two scores as Las Vegas dominated the visiting Pioneers, 49-20.

The win clinched a share of the Northeast League title for the third-ranked Wildcats (8-1, 6-0), who also secured the league’s No. 1 playoff seed. Ninth-ranked Canyon Springs (5-3, 5-1) plays  Desert Pines (5-3, 5-1) on Thursday with the league’s No. 2 seed on the line.

“Our kids were focused,” Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. “We’ve been looking forward to this game all year. We knew that (Canyon Springs) was a good football team and they’d be here and we’d be here. Whoever came out focused and physical would end up winning this game.”

Henderson completed 15 of 19 passes for 298 yards. He passed for 176 yards and two TDs in the first half as the Wildcats took a 21-0 halftime lead.

“I was just rolling out and dumping it off to the wide-open receivers, and they were making all the catches,” Henderson said.

Henderson and the Wildcats got rolling early, driving 75 yards on 10 plays, capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Henderson with 7:34 to go in the first quarter.

Henderson came up with a key 36-yard pass to Marquan Major on third-and-11 to keep the drive alive.

Las Vegas added two more scoring drives of 10 or more plays in the first half. The first was capped by a 1-yard TD run by Lamond Powe with 8:19 to go in the second quarter.

Henderson then hit Cameron Rogers with a 9-yard TD pass with 17.2 seconds left in the half to make the score 21-0.

Henderson had time to throw most of the night, and when Canyon Springs did get pressure, the junior quarterback was often able to extend the play and either find an open receiver or scramble for positive yards.

“That’s a very athletic team that we played against, so that showed well for him,” Faircloth said. “He’s made great improvements over the last three or four weeks. We’re very, very happy with his play.”

Henderson’s most athletic play came after Canyon Springs had cut the lead to 21-6 on a 14-yard TD run by Malik Brown.

The Wildcats were facing third-and-16 from the Canyon Springs 49 when Henderson was flushed out of the pocket.

Not only did he get first-down yardage, he eluded several defenders downfield and scored on a 49-yard run to make the score 29-6 with 7:55 to go in the third quarter.

“My idea when somebody comes after me is let them come,” Henderson said. “Let them overpursue, and I’m going to try to get out of there.”

Henderson added a 25-yard TD pass to Farrell Victor and a 98-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Rogers. Rogers caught the pass near midfield and was able to outrun the Canyon Springs defense for the score.

Major caught six passes for 99 yards, all in the first half. Rogers added three catches for 114 yards.

“Our receivers did a phenomenal job,” Faircloth said. “Marquan Major was lights out in the first half, and then obviously what Cameron Rogers does for us is something you can’t replace.

“He’s a big-time athlete. He’s got a good future if he keeps his head on straight, that’s for sure.”

Powe added a 16-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and finished with 98 yards on 12 carries. Las Vegas has outscored its Northeast League opponents 296-41.

“This is a real big win for the Wildcats,” Henderson said. “This is probably he best team ball we’ve played the whole season.”

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