Looking at McQueen and Foothill's records, one might go ahead and pencil in the Lancers to advance to their seventh Nevada 4A state championship appearance since 1990. But when the two teams kickoff today at 1 p.m. at McQueen High in the NIAA/U.S. Class 4A semifinals, go ahead and throw out the records. McQueen coach Ken Dalton already has.
"You know, they're really not," Dalton said about the Falcons being an 8-4 team. "Two of those losses were to Las Vegas and their other two losses were when their great running back (John Ford) was hurt."
Las Vegas plays Durango, the Sunset region champion, at 7 tonight in the other semifinal at Las Vegas High. The Wildcats won the Sunrise region championship with a 41-34 come-from-behind win over Foothill. The Falcons led 34-20 with under 10 minutes to go in the game before Las Vegas scored 21 unanswered points.
"In that game against Las Vegas, they (Foothill) absolutely dominated for three quarters," Dalton said. "They simply are one of the great teams right now."
McQueen (11-1) is looking for its fifth state title in 11 years and second in a row. Foothill, meanwhile, has only been around for three years, each season getting progressively better. The Falcons went just 1-8 in their inaugural season and last year, they went 5-4.
But for the the Lancers to win, it appears simple--stop Ford. The 5-foot-10, 175 pound senior has rushed for 32 touchdowns and almost 2,000 yards this season. In three postseason games, Ford has rushed for 806 yards, including a 342-yard performance in a 42-34 win over Desert Pines in the Sunrise regional semifinals. Ford, who's already verbally committed to UNLV, has scored the Falcon's last 11 touchdowns.
Dalton compares him to Eldorado's Steven Jackson, who the Lancers held to a season-low 108 yards on 30 carries in a 29-14 win last season in the state semifinals. McQueen has also stifled good backs this season, including Kyle Eklund, the Northern 4A's leading rusher. In the Lancers' 37-34 four-overtime win last week against Elko in the Northern 4A regional championship game, Eklund was held to only 31 yards on 16 carries. But earlier this season, he rushed for 276 yards in a 47-34 win over McQueen, handing the Lancers their first league loss in six years.
"He's a completely different type of runner than Eklund," Dalton said when comparing Ford to Eklund. "He's very similar to Jackson from Eldorado that we played last year. According to people I've talked to, Ford has got phenomenal speed. But their quarterback keeps you honest and they have three outstanding receivers."
The Falcons' Josh Daneshforooz has passed for almost 1,000 yards this season to go along with his five touchdowns. He completed all seven of his passes for 158 yards in a 41-0 rout of Rancho in the first round of the regional playoffs. Foothill coach Ray Fenton realizes his quarterback will have to play a major role to win this game.
"We watched their game against Steven Jackson last year," Fenton told the Las Vegas Sun."They loaded up with eight guys in the box and dared them to throw it. So we know one guy isn't going to win this game for us."
The Foothill-McQueen game will be broadcasted live on ESPN Radio(630 AM) and the Las Vegas-Durango game can heard on Las Vegas' 1340 AM.
NIAA/U.S. Bank State Championship semifinal
Durango-Las Vegas, tonight at 7 in Las Vegas
Las Vegas (11-1) advanced to today's 4A state semifinal game with its 41-34 come-from-behind win over Foothill last week in the Sunrise Regional championship game. Durango (11-1) beat Cheyenne 14-0 in the Sunset regional championship game.
In its last eight games before the region championship game, the stingy Wildcat defense was only allowing 13.5 point per game. They'll look to do the same against the Trailblazers, who only managed to pass for 64 yards against Cheyenne. The Wildcat defense hasn't allowed a quarterback to throw for over 200 yards against them since their fourth game of the season. Las Vegas also hasn't lost to a Nevada team since dropping their season opener.