Las Vegas High School Football Preview: Desert Pines
Photo Credit: Desert Pines High School

Desert Pines Jaguars: 2020 Las Vegas High School Football Preview

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Last season the Jaguars from Desert Pines went undefeated in the regular season. It was the first time in school history Desert Pines went unbeaten during regular season play.

 

Undeniably Desert Pines has consistently had one of the most talented and stacked rosters in the state of Nevada. And since their promotion to the 4A, after their back to back state titles in the 3A, DP has not disappointed. Winning their division and going deep into the playoff two years in a row. However, DP has come up short of a state title appearance, even though, by all rights, DP is the most talented team in North Las Vegas.

Over the years, Desert Pines has made a home consistently sending several of its players to college with scholarships. In recent years, players like Darnell Washington, Randal Grimes, Tony Fields, Anthony Smith, Marckell Grayson, and Samuel Poutsi, have spearheaded the DP alumni playing collegiate football. In 2017 over 11 players on the DP roster were rewarded with full-ride scholarships to play collegiate football – the first time a public school has ever done that in Nevada, and the 2021 class is no different. 

 

Las Vegas High School Football Preview: Desert Pines
Photo Credit: 24/7 Sports

Players like 2021 USC commit Michael Jackson, who plays wide receiver, defensive linemen Tiaoalii Savea and Braezhon Ross, who are already top-rated recruits. Along with players like arguably the states top wide receiver, sophomore DeAndre Moore, and junior running back Javonte Barnes (two more highly rated DP recruits for the 2022 and 2023 classes) Desert Pines is more than ready on the field to take on any team.

 

 

 

However, the team’s issues most likely will not be on the field, trying to work around the loss of 6’8 tight end Darnell Washington, but the sideline dealing with a more impactful departure.

 

 

After Bishop Gorman hired new head coach Brent Browner, one of the best coaches in all of high school football, Craig Canfield left DP. He was the offensive coordinator for Desert Pines last season and decided to leave DP to go back to Bishop Gorman and call plays for the Gaels. This is a role he had previously held for both Tony Sanchez and Kenny Sanchez staff during the ten year run for the Gaels that seen three High School National Championships, with Canfield directing the offense for two of them. 

For most teams losing a coordinator like Canfield can have very harmful effects on the field. Playcalling tendencies, flow, and understanding of the offense can vary based on who makes the calls. Losing an experienced play-caller like coach Canfield, who made a positive impact for the Jaguars last season while DP was in the 4A division, will hurt the Jaguars, but also will give schools some trouble scheming for them since no one will be sure what the Jaguars will do until it shows up on film.

 

 

How will Desert Pines head coach and athletic director Tico Rodriguez replace Canfield?

 

 

Las Vegas High School Football Preview: Desert Pines
Photo Credit: YouTube

Establishing DP as a genuine contender for the state title is easy, but without Canfield, as the play-caller, the Jaguars will have to find their rhythm on offense early in the season. But they have many things to lean on, an excellent running game behind a talented offensive line, and a passing game with two of the most explosive receivers in the state.

When it comes to offensive firepower the Jaguars can match up with anyone in the state, but with the loss of coach Canfield, as well as a few other coaches who left, and some of whom went to Bishop Gorman along with Canfield, you have to wonder how quickly can the new staff gel with their players?

 

 

Also, how will the Jaguars handle if they are down by 14 or more points to a team? Last year when they faced that pressure, they didn’t respond well, especially in their only loss last season, to Centennial in the State Semi-Finals.

 

 

If any coach can overcome losing coaches and one of the nation’s top players it’s coach Rodriguez, who will once again find a way to have the Jaguars in contention. What coach Rodriguez has done since taking over DP has to be commended by everyone. He has turned that program around and is attracting kids across the valley to come to Desert Pines to play football and go to school. Under his direction, DP has become one of the top 4 schools to play football for in Las Vegas.

 

Las Vegas High School Football Preview: Desert Pines
Photo Credit: ScoopDucks

Led by Jackson, Moore, Barnes, Ross, Savea, and quarterback Rjay Tagataese, Desert Pines will once again be competing with for a state title. What I want to see is how they handle adversity when it strikes. For example, when they played Centennial in the State Semi-Finals last season and fell behind by 14 points, they lost their composer, and it affected their play on the field. Will that happen again or did they learn from that loss?

If Desert Pines can show that they can play from behind and stay composed while doing so, the Jaguars could be a very scary team to face in the playoffs for any NIAA team.

 

 

For the Desert Pines Jaguars in 2020, there are questions they will have to answer. What will the be like on the offensive side of the ball? With the new 5A division every week, each team will be playing a seasoned and well-established program with a lot of talent and full coaching staff. The Jags have their work cut out for them if they want to get past teams like Centennial, Gorman, and Liberty to take home the hardware, but they won’t back down.

 

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-JaRon Turner – Franchise Sports Media

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