Centennial Bulldogs Beat Arbor View 17-14

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Centennial Bulldogs

If anyone knows the history between Las Vegas Centennial High School and Arbor View High School football, it’s me. I was a coach for 3+ seasons for the Centennial Bulldogs and quickly learned the history between the two schools, a history that is as intense as any in Las Vegas High School football. The schools are separated by less than 5 miles and it’s a 10-minute drive from one school to the other. The styles of play are a stark contrast to each other, with the blue-collar Aggies running a double-wing offense and flashy Centennial running the spread offense using their focusing on their athleticism.

The Aggies are a tough-nosed, well-coached team that is always tough to play due to how effective they run their offense. Centennial, athletically, can compete with almost any team in Las Vegas, but the Aggies always seemed to have the Bulldogs number since I came on the staff.

The Centennial Seniors and Juniors, in particular, are a special group to me since I was their Freshman Head Coach and spent countless hours with them at school, at football camps, in meetings, and, of course, on the field. The same can be said for the coaching staff, who are all outstanding men who have done a great job turning the program around.

When I first got to Las Vegas I spoke with Marvin Perkins Sr. “Perk” is one of the most honest, trustworthy, and upstanding men I have ever met in my life, and he basically interviewed me prior to introducing me to then Head Coach Leon Evans (now Rancho High School’s Head Coach). A week later, I met Coach Evans and a few more members of his coaching staff and was asked to join them, which I did. That 2016 season was a struggle, as we didn’t live up to our own expectations and failed to make the NIAA playoffs despite having All-American kick returner Savon Scarver and Jamaal Evans, both of whom attended Utah St. on the roster.

After the season Dustin Forshee, a former UNLV offensive lineman and the team’s offensive line coach under Evans, took over as the Bulldog’s head coach. Dustin brought in a mostly new staff, only keeping myself, Perk, Alec Willimas, Stan Standifer, former UNLV offensive lineman Mike Donato, and former Los Angeles Raiders wide receiver, Gerald Bradley. Forshee hired former UNLV safety Gerald Robinson and Sam Norris, who had coached at Cheyanne High School (where they were the offensive and defensive coordinators). He also added longtime Las Vegas defensive coordinator, Terry Tarver from Legacy High School, to run the defense, as well as former Centennial quarterback, Beau Worpell, and Andrew Adams, both of whom were graduate assistant coaches at the University of Nevada, Reno.

High School Football Week 6: Centennial Bulldogs Beat Arbor View 17-14
Photo credit Joe Arrigo.

The 2017 Centennial team was a very young and inexperienced team. As a staff, we knew we would have a tough year, but we were laying the foundation for the future. We targeted the 2019 season as the season we had a shot to be a special team, one that Las Vegas High Schools had to take seriously. We had to get through the 2017 season, which was a very trying season on the field as we won only 1 game–our final game of the year–over Palo Verde High School.

Coach Forshee made the call to start Sophomore running back Jordan Smith (who exploded for more than 230 yards and 3 touchdowns), Aaron Johnson at wide receiver, Sammie Wallace at defensive end/linebacker, and Thomas Lane at defensive tackle.

 

My Freshman team was also loaded with talent with players like Gerick Robinson, an electrifying playmaker, quarterback Colton Tenney, running back/cornerback Tyrone McCoy and Jordan Mcgilbra, receivers Ricky Villalobos, Emilio Valdovinos, safety Isaac Bello and offensive linemen Sammy Norris and Ezra Aiono. We only lost 2 games, by a total of 13 points, one of which was to the Aggies of Arbor View. That outcome was the same for every Centennial team since 2007 in the regular season and since 2013 in the NIAA playoffs.

That changed Friday night when the Bulldogs and coach Forshee had their first statement win–which could be a program changing win–as the Centennial Bulldogs beat the Arbor View 17-14. For every player on Centennial, this was their first time ever beating Arbor View in high school football. Sammie Wallace collapsed on the field after the game went final and was overcome with emotion that built up for 3 years of losses to the Aggies.

The emotions I felt watching the game from the sideline were as if I never left. I felt like I was back coaching my guys again. Watching the guys I spent so many hours with, both players and coaches, had me emotional, to say the least. Seeing the very under-recruited Jordan Smith run for a 55-yard touchdown after a 95-yard touchdown reception, (as well as an 85-yard touchdown that was called back after a very questionable illegal shift call) brought me to tears.

High School Football Week 6: Centennial Bulldogs Beat Arbor View 17-14
Photo courtesy of Earl Smith

Smith and I bonded during his freshman year and that bond only got stronger while we were at the Boise St. football camp going into his sophomore year. Jordan was staying in the dorm that I was in charge of during the camp and we spent a lot of time in between games talking. He expressed doubt and uncertainty that he could handle being a varsity player or carry the load. He got emotional talking about it because he didn’t want to let anyone down, namely his teammates, coaches, and most of all his family.

When Jordan had that huge final game of the ’17 season against Palo Verde, he came over and we embraced and shed tears. No words were spoken other than “Thank you for believing in and helping me coach.”  Smith had a very good junior year, rushing for 814 yards (5.3 YPC), and 13 touchdowns. So far in 2019, Smith has rushed for 533 yards (8.46 YPC) and 9 TD’s on the ground in the season’s first 4 games.

For the Bulldogs, they will now turn their attention to their Homecoming Game against a very good Canyon Springs High School team on Friday, October 4th at Centennial High School. The Bulldogs control their destiny at 4-0 and the coach in me couldn’t be happier for my former players and coaches, who I still consider family. I credit the young men for buying into what the coaches have asked them to do, and I credit the coaches for staying the course, sticking to the plan, and seeing the fruits of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears paying off.

Centennial Bulldogs

Joe Arrigo

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Centennial Bulldogs