Las Vegas High’s toughest competition over the last five weeks has probably come on the practice field.
The third-ranked Wildcats hope those workouts have properly prepared them for their most challenging Northeast League football opponent.
Las Vegas (7-1, 5-0 Northeast) hosts No. 8 Canyon Springs (5-2, 5-0) at 7 p.m. today with first place at stake.
“It’s home-field advantage if we win and everything that comes with it,” Wildcats wide receiver Marquan Major said. “It’s going to be a good game. It’s here at home, and every time it’s at home, it’s a good game.
“I’m fired up and the whole team’s fired up this week.”
The Wildcats haven’t faced much of a challenge since starting league play, outscoring five Northeast opponents 247-21.
“We just try to practice hard against ourselves so we’ll be prepared,” senior defensive tackle Jose Cerriteno said.
Canyon Springs poses a threat like no other Las Vegas will face in the league. Like the Wildcats, the Pioneers have dominated their five Northeast opponents, outscoring them 211-63.
“It’s typical Canyon Springs,” Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. “They’re very fast. We won’t play anybody faster this year.”
Much of that speed is in the offensive backfield, where senior Malik Brown and sophomore Donnel Pumphrey give the Pioneers two big-play threats. Pumphrey has rushed for 744 yards and seven touchdowns, and Brown has 634 yards and eight scores.
“They run the ball a lot,” Faircloth said. “They’ve got two very talented backs, which obviously helps.
“Their backs can run like the wind. They’re very fast. If they get out, we won’t catch them.”
Canyon Springs quarterbacks Jamaal Martin and D’Vante Howard have combined to pass for 1,053 yards, but Faircloth knows the running game is the Pioneers’ foremost threat.
“They roll two quarterbacks, and they don’t pass bad, but they’re a run team,” he said. “That’s how we view them.”
Las Vegas counters with a more balanced attack. Junior running back Farrell Victor has rushed for 908 yards and 10 scores, and junior quarterback Hasaan Henderson has passed for 1,244 yards. He has thrown 17 touchdown passes and been intercepted only twice.
Cameron Rogers (37 catches, 580 yards) and Major (30, 384) are the top receivers.
Major said taking care of the ball has been a focus since the Wildcats had some early-season problems with fumbles.
“Coach always told us that the only people that can beat us is ourselves,” Major said. “As long as we don’t do that, we can go a long way.”