Thursday, December 07, 2006
Following article as it appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal:
A smiling Chris Faircloth summed up the feeling as his Las Vegas High football team celebrated on Saturday.
"It's great to be a Wildcat, at least it is today," Faircloth said.
It's been awfully good to be a Wildcat for the last six seasons. Las Vegas turned in a dominant second-half performance on the way to a 33-6 victory over Galena for the Class 4A state title at Sam Boyd Stadium.
It was Las Vegas' second consecutive title, and its third in six years. The Wildcats have played in four consecutive finals and five in six seasons.
"Last year felt great, but this year -- winning back-to-back -- feels even better," senior quarterback O'Ryan Bradley said.
Galena outgained Las Vegas 104-92 in the first half and the Grizzlies trailed only 7-6 at the break. Faircloth said the coaches challenged the team at halftime.
"We went in there and said, basically the team with the most heart is going to win this one, that's what it comes down to," Faircloth said. "We work all year for this opportunity, and if we let it go, it's because they deserve it. And if we win it, it's because we deserve it. And the kids responded and did a phenomenal job."
Las Vegas wasted no time taking control in the second half. On the second play, Bradley hit Daniel Durnian with an 86-yard touchdown pass that put the Wildcats up 13-6.
Durnian caught the ball near midfield, cut to his right and sped toward the end zone, diving over the goal line for the score.
"That's what won the game for us," Bradley said. "If we didn't do that, I don't think we would have won the game."
The Wildcats added another score while the wind was still at their backs when Robert Hackett scored on a 2-yard run with 3:03 to go in the third.
"The momentum turned completely and we took them completely out of the game," Faircloth said.
Bradley added a 16-yard touchdown pass to Chris Kelly on the second play of the fourth quarter to make it 26-6, and Jovan Massey returned an interception 12 yards for a score with 3:06 to play to cap the scoring.
It was Massey's second interception of the game. Las Vegas forced five turnovers.
"The defense, those kids love to play football," Faircloth said. "That's probably the biggest reason they're as good as they are. They like to run, they like to hit. You don't have to beg any of them to work hard, because they all work hard."
Las Vegas allowed only 47 yards of offense after halftime.
"Our 'D' just played phenomenal like they always do and got us the win," Bradley said.
Galena running back Jimmy Sargent rushed for 62 yards in the first half, but the Wildcats shut him down in the second half. Sargent finished with 68 yards on 27 carries.
"We had to stop the run," Faircloth said. "They were getting after us a little bit in the first half and getting some plays out. We knew if we didn't get that stopped, it was going to be a long second half."
Instead, it turned out to be a long half for Galena. Bradley was just 6-for-15 for 61 yards and one interception in the first half. But he was 8-for-11 for 169 yards in the second half to help the team march down the field.
"We had to get on him a little bit there," Faircloth said. "The kid always steps up to a challenge. He knew where to throw the ball, and made some great placements as to where to throw it.
"He really has control of this offense. If you don't have a quarterback to throw it where it needs to be, it's not going to happen."
Bradley completed passes to five receivers. Kelly led the way with six catches for 71 yards, and Durnian had four grabs for 137 yards.
"They showed us they could stop the run, and coach said, 'Let's go to the air,' " Kelly said. "That's what O'Ryan did. He spread the ball out. He's a hell of a quarterback."