Stable of backs highlight Arbor View football

Posted: September 12, 2013 in Preps
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
FRONT - Herman Gray, Salah Boyce, Devon Turner and Ricky Clark. BACK - Lonnie Sharpe, Anthony Smith and Jacob Speaks

FRONT – Herman Gray, Salah Boyce, Devon Turner and Ricky Clark. BACK – Lonnie Sharpe, Anthony Smith and Jacob Speaks

By W.G. Ramirez

For some Southern Nevada football teams, this week will mark their fourth game of the season.

But for Arbor View, its Thursday night clash with Sunset Division-rival Centennial will be the team’s season lid-lifter, and for one senior, the game couldn’t come any sooner.

Devon Turner has been waiting for this day since last year’s training camp. A season-ending injury in a scrimmage game against Liberty last August left him watching his teammates roll to the Northwest Division crown, and now he’s ready to lead the team to back-to-back division championships and another trip to the postseason.

“We’re pretty excited to go out to play,” he said. “We’re sick of waiting but we have no worries. We’ve been working harder than everybody else.”

That last statement remains to be seen, since the Aggies haven’t played yet, but one thing is for sure – they’ve practiced longer than just about everyone else. Palo Verde also hasn’t played yet, and opens its season at Legacy on Thursday.

“It’s (been) hard to keep them focused, (keep them) going,” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “We scrimmaged three weeks ago, and it seems like forever ago that we scrimmaged. But we’re dealing with it.”

Turner and six other running backs highlight the Aggies’ offense this season, and Barnson said he’s excited with his stable of thoroughbreds, who he’s hoping will run roughshod through a tough schedule, behind a relatively rebuilt offensive line.

Joining Turner are seniors Anthony Smith (735 yards in 2012), Jacob Speaks (577 yards), Salah Boyce (442 yards), Ricky Clark (210 yards) and Lonnie Sharpe (who stars as the team’s linebacker) and junior Herman Gray (364 yards).

“We only lost one running back from last year; we lost kids up front,” Barnson said. “We’re young up front, but the kids that are replacing are all from within our own system.”

Junior Malik Noshi heads up this year’s offensive line, which will miss graduated seniors Thomas Newton and Elijah George, who are now playing Division I football at UNR and Oregon, respectively.

“I played with them last year and they showed me everything to do and how to lead, so I feel pretty comfortable in leading the offensive line this year,” Noshi said.Arbor Chart

Barnson said the biggest thing about his seven-man wrecking crew out of the backfield is he feels no pressure of who to start, and senses no dissension from his stack of upperclassmen.

“A lot of kids would love to be the focal guy, but our direction is put those guys on defense, keep em fresh (and) rotate ’em on offense and they’ve accepted it,” he said. “And they’re all back from last year, so they’re used to it. If some kid gets hot, it seems like it’s his night, we go with him.”

Said Turner: “Nobody gets tired. I feel like we could all start at any other school in the city. Nobody cares about getting the rock around here, we just all want to help each other and help the team win.”

Plus, Barnson said, in addition to his running backs, he is confident in his 6-foot-4, 205-pound quarterback, senior Andrew Cornwell.

“(He) is doing great, he throws a catchable ball, and that helps,” Barnson said. “When a ball can be caught, then the kids can go get it. A lot of teams look at us and think ‘all they do is run’ but I think last year we averaged 10 to 12 passes a game. (Graduated) Rasheem (Parks) took off 4 or 5 of those and made runs out of them. The stats don’t show it, but we do attempt it.”

All the off-season work culminates Thursday night at Arbor View, as the Aggies renew that rivalry with Centennial.

The teams split their games last year, with Arbor View winning in the regular season, and the Bulldogs stealing a postseason win.

“Last year, if you look back, they looked great,” Barnson said of Centennial. “Did we overlook em? No, they played great. When it was over, we licked our wounds; we hit the weight room … all we can do (this year) is show up.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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