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Unapologetic Truth – UNLV Football Coach, High School Football and More

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I’m tired of having to always take the “high road,” especially when people knowingly lie, misrepresent, or speak about subjects of which they have no clue. So I must be tired of social media then, right?

Wrong, but instead of fighting the individuals that perpetrate those lies and non-truths there, I’m setting the record straight and being unapologetic about it here.

So this edition of WWJD will focus on the “Unapologetic Truth.” I am going to dive into some Las Vegas sports subjects and tell you unapologetically what each situation needs and how the decision-makers should handle it, in my opinion.

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

UNLV Football:

UNLV Rebels vs Boise State College football
Photo Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Truthfully this is hard for me since I don’t call for people’s jobs, especially those that I respect and consider friends.

UNLV head football coach Tony Sanchez is just that. But I have to take the personal side out of this and judge what coach Sanchez has done on the field record-wise.

I have taken a lot of flack over coach Sanchez. I’ve been accused of being a “homer” and “coach Sanchez’s mouthpiece” because of the stance that I take about not calling for his job and trying to find the positive out of every seemingly negative situation. I have defended him, his staff, and the job they have done at UNLV and will continue to do so.

Some others have said I am too close to the program to give a non-bias opinion of what needs to happen for the Rebels to move forward, and I disagree.

This article isn’t about my friendship with Tony or how I feel about him. If that were the case, I’d keep him. I have to separate the two, and he knows that. This is about wins and losses. That is the measure by which he’s judged.

Photo credit- LVSportsNetwork

He knows that I have a job to do, and this isn’t a reflection of our friendship or how I feel about him as a person.

At the end of last season, UNLV Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois stated that she would re-evaluate the football program if coach Sanchez didn’t lead the Rebels to a Bowl Game this season. Well, after the loss to Colorado State, the Rebels have been eliminated from Bowl contention yet again, and it appears a decision will be on the horizon in the upcoming weeks.

While I won’t advocate firing coach Sanchez nor like, respond, or retweet any #FireCoachSanchez tweets, I do understand where the frustration is coming from, and UNLV will likely have a new head coach in 2020.

I also think it may be time for that change.

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

What Tony Sanchez has done for UNLV football can not be understated.

Photo Credit UNLV Athletics

 

He gave the UNLV football program direction, purpose, and expectations. He modernized UNLV football and changed every dynamic of the program, from the field markings to the uniforms. The quality of players that are now being recruited by the Rebels is a direct result of Coach Sanchez’s and his presentation of the program.

Most importantly, he raised over $30 million and brought UNLV football into the new millennium by bringing the Fertitta Football Complex to reality.

While the on the field success hasn’t translated in wins and losses yet, the team is in a much better position than the program has ever been in on the field, off the field, and in the classroom. That is due to Tony Sanchez’s leadership and vision.

UNLV football fans should be very appreciative of the things he has accomplished. He has set UNLV Football up for future success and given the program the tools it sorely needed before his hire. It is a shame that it seems he won’t get the opportunity to utilize the Fertitta Football Complex or open and coach in Allegiant Stadium after all the hard work he has done.

If coach Sanchez is indeed relieved of his coaching duties, I will always maintain that he is one of the four people that belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of UNLV football. His efforts successfully turned the program around. UNLV almost moved down to FCS and even once considering disbanding the football program in its entirety. Coach Sanchez has effectively turned UNLV into a program that can compete with Power-5 schools in recruiting — also getting the city of Las Vegas to invest in UNLV football, something that had never happened before.

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

If Coach Sanchez is fired who are some names that should or will be considered?

UNLV football fans are throwing their names of potential candidates out there across the message boards and on social media. The three names I see the most are:

  •  Jay Hill – Current head coach of Weber St., who has had great success in the Big Sky Conference.
  • Danny Gonzalez – Former San Diego State and current Arizona State defensive coordinator 
  •  Lane Kiffin – Current Florida Atlantic head coach 

In all honesty, no one knows who Desiree Reed-Francois would consider, and if they say they know definitively, they are lying. Her basketball hires historically are much different than her football hires so that I wouldn’t base too much on the hiring of TJ Otzelberger as the UNLV men’s basketball coach. I would consider the UNLV athletic budget and how and how much she could pay a new football staff, first and foremost.

So let’s take a look at the rumored potential candidates.

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

 

Photo Credit footballscoop.com

Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic University Head Coach

Reed-Francois has a connection with Kiffin; she recommended that the Vols hire Lane for the head coaching job at the University of Tennessee after the Oakland Raiders fired him.

Kiffin would bring a big name, flair, excitement, and an excellent recruiting background to Las Vegas, but how long would he be here, and would he leave FAU for UNLV?

There are always rumors about Kiffin looking for “the next big gig,” and he could use UNLV as his next stepping stone coaching job, or use any interest from UNLV to get a pay raise (again) from FAU. There is also the buyout UNLV would have to come up with on top of a new salary for him and a new staff.

Kiffin signed a 10-year extension with FAU after his first season. The buyout clause is $1.5 million after the 2019 season and $1 million after the 2020 season, dropping $250,000 after each season.

Lane has a very comfortable situation in Boca Raton. He has job security, the backing of the school, and access to one of the deepest talent pools in the country to recruit from, Florida. I also had a very hard time seeing UNLV willing to pay the buyout unless some boosters get involved.

I can report that I have spoken to multiple sources with direct knowledge, and coach Kiffin does not have any interest in leaving FAU for UNLV.

 

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Photo Credit- mavinsports

Marcus Arroyo, University of Oregon Offensive Coordinator

The 39-year-old Arroyo is currently the offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and tight ends coach at the University of Oregon. He was the former quarterback’s coach and interim play-caller during Jeff Tedford’s absence for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 under then-head coach Lovie Smith. 

Arroyo has had coaching stints at Prarie View A&M, San Jose St., Wyoming, Cal, Southern Mississippi, and Oklahoma St. He also played quarterback at San Jose State University from 1998 to 2001, so he is familiar with the Mountain West Conference.

So far under Arroyo, through 9 games, the Ducks offense ranks 26th in total offense putting up 459.2 yards per game, 4,133 total yards, and a total of 43 touchdowns. The Ducks’ passing ranks 34th in the country, averaging 274.8 yards per game, 27 touchdowns, and passing for 2,473 total yards. Oregon’s rushing attack is ranked 45th overall with 184.4 yards per game, 16 touchdowns, with an average of 4.96 yards per carrying and 1,660 rushing yards in total.

With no head coaching experience, and making more money at Oregon as the offensive coordinator ($750,000) than he would as head coach at UNLV, would Arroyo leave Eugene to come to Las Vegas to take over the Rebels?

I doubt Arroyo ends up at UNLV since he feels he is just about ready for a Power-5 head coaching job according to sources I have in the Oregon football program.

 

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Photo Credit- footballscoop.com

Joe Brady, LSU passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach

Joe Brady’s a rising star, no a zenith in the coaching profession. In-fact I don’t know if I have ever seen an assistant coach who has had more of an impact on a school, ever.

He is from Florida, where he was a 4-year varsity letterman wide receiver. Brady earned a scholarship to William and Mary, where he played and earned a degree. He starting his coaching career there as a linebacker coach before moving on to Penn St. as a graduate assistant under James Franklin and their former offensive coordinator and current Mississippi St. head coach Joe Moorhead.

He then learned even more offense from New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton when he became an offensive assistant for the Saints before taking the job at LSU as their passing game/wide receivers coach.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron brought in and has credited Brady for helping LSU discover the passing game, turning the Tigers into a more balanced offensive attack the past two seasons after years of not being able to pass the ball. Brady has established himself quickly as an excellent recruiter and has excellent relationships with players, staff, and parents.

Brady signed a three-year contract in 2018 that runs through the 2021 season that pays him $400,000 a year. But late Saturday night reports started to surface that the 30-year-old rising star is about to enter talks with LSU to pay him like an “NFL coordinator.” He is going to be the hottest name on the market (not named Urban Meyer) and will be mentioned for almost any job in college football.

Is Brady the “pie in the sky” coaching candidate to whom UNLV could turn? Possibly, but like every other person that I mentioned in this portion of WWJD, UNLV needs to pony-up and pay. So the question is, can they and will they?

The better question is, will Brady listen? Sources have told me that Brady would prefer to coach in the Southern Region, at a Power-5 school or the NFL.

 

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Photo Credit: Weber St Sports

Jay Hill – Weber State Head Coach

The 44-year old Hill is in his sixth season at Weber State, where he has a 42-28 carer record and won two Big Sky championships. He played with the University of Utah as a cornerback from 1998-1999 and became a GA in 2003. In 2005 he became a full-time coach for the Utes coaching special teams and cornerbacks.

He stayed in Utah until the job at Weber State opened up in 2014. His coaching career started slow, going 2-10 in his first year. But in year two they went 6-5, followed by 7-4. In 2017 he led his team to an 11-3 record followed by a 10-4 record, but both seasons ended in defeat in FCS Quarterfinals.

This season the Wildcats are 6-2 (4-0 in  Big Sky conference play)

Hill is making $275,000 with a $100,000 buyout. Monetarily he would make sense for UNLV, but like any first time FBS head coach, he would have to assemble a staff that isn’t from the FCS level. He also has no ties to Reed-Francois.

I do think that Hill could be a possibility for Reed-Francois, but I also wonder if he would be interested in the UNLV job since Kyle Wittingham could be looking to move on or retire soon, and Utah would be his desired job. 

 

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Photo Credit: 24/7 Sports

Jim Mora Jr.- Former UCLA Head Coach

There is a tie to Reed-Francois here. Mora coached at UCLA, where she went to college. He also toured the UNLV campus last year, and rumors swirled that he was the preferred choice to replace Sanchez then. After UNLV finished strong, beating SDSU and Reno, it was nearly impossible to remove him, and the Reed-Francois had to pass.

Mora has a 46-30 record (2-2 in Bowls) at UCLA but was more famous for his comments about USC than any win. He also has a coaching pedigree being the son of former NFL head coach Jim Mora as well as being a former NFL head coach himself.

Mora helped turn the Bruins around and was able to recruit well. He brought in Myles Jack, Kenny Clark, Anthony Barr, and Brett Hundley, but never could “run LA” like he said the Bruins would so infamously. What Mora did do well was recruit Southern California as well as the South.

Since being let go by UCLA, Mora has gotten into TV and is still just 57 years old. The question would be, what is he looking for salary-wise and staff wise? If Mora is looking to become the highest-paid coach in the Mountain West Conference, Desiree is going to have to get support from a booster or two.

From a name standpoint, Mora would check a box, but many feel he left UCLA in worse condition than he inherited it, and burned a lot of bridges. I wouldn’t discard Mora as a candidate, but I don’t think he would be a slam dunk.

 

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Photo Credit: arizonasports.com

Danny Gonzalez- Arizona St. Defensive Coordinator

Gonzalez is another name that many UNLV fans think would be a solid hire. He was at SDSU as the defensive coordinator until last season when he went to ASU to help Herm Edwards turn around the Sun Devils.

Gonzalez has put together excellent defenses and knows the lay of the land in the Mountain West. He is also making decent money at ASU ($525,000), but would he leave for a slight pay raise to run this program?

People I spoke to in the ASU program have told me that they do not expect Gonzalez to leave for a Group of 5 head coaching position and that he is holding out for a Power-5 head man job. They also said that Gonzalez is pleased in Tempe working with Edwards as his defensive coordinator until the right job comes along.

Based on the information my ASU sources have told me, and I trust them immensely, I don’t think Gonzalez is going to be an option for UNLV.

 

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Sun

Tim Skipper, UNLV Defensive Coordinator

Ok, this may seem like an odd candidate.

Before coming to UNLV in 2018 as the defensive coordinator, Skipper was the running backs coach (2015-2016) and linebackers coach (2017) at the University of Florida. He has also had coaching stints at Colorado State as the assistant head coach/linebackers coach (2012-2014), Fresno State as the running backs coach (2006-2008), linebackers coach/run defensive coordinator (2009-2011), Sacramento State (2003-2005), and Western New Mexico (2001-2002).

As a player, Tim was a four-year starter at Fresno State, playing middle linebacker from 1997-2000. A three-time All-WAC selection, he was named freshman All-America with 117 total tackles as a Freshman.

Skipper also has the bloodlines of a coach. His father, Jim, recently retired as the Carolina Panthers running backs coach, while his bother Kelly is currently the Buffalo Bills running backs coach, and his other brother Courtney works in the athletic department at Arizona State as the lead academic coach for the Sun Devil’s football team.

Known as an excellent and tireless recruiter, Skipper has strong ties to his native Louisiana, California, and Florida, three of the most talent-rich states for recruiting in the country. Under “T-Skip,” the Rebels have gotten more athletic, faster, and stronger on the defensive side of the ball.

Would Skipper be interested I don’t’ think so, and would Desiree Reed-Francois consider him, who knows? I don’t think it is even being considered.

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Other names that have been mentioned should UNLV make a coaching change are:

  • Jim McElwain- Head Coach- Central Michigan
  • Pat Hill- Former Head Coach- Fresno State
  • Bryant Vincent- Offensive Coordinator- UAB
  • Rich Rodriguez- Offensive Coordinator- Ole Miss
  • Alex Grinch- Defensive Coordinator- Oklahoma
  • Morgan Scalley- Defensive Coordinator- Utah
  • Mark Entz- Head Coach- North Dakota State University

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

So, WWJD? I’m going to be 110% honest with you, I don’t know at the moment. I do know that I’d wait and see how each game plays out the rest of the way.

But I want to know what YOU would do Rebels fans! Leave your solution below in the comment section and let’s have some constructive dialogue about it.

 

Setting the record straight about local High School Football.

 

Since the start of the Las Vegas high school football season, I have been accused of being a Bishop Gorman “homer” for some reason. A few internet trolls attack me and one of the best local high school football reporters, Anthony Brenagh, because they feel we don’t have their program ranked higher than Bishop Gorman High School. These accusations have come from coaches, parents, administrators, and the like.

Well, let me point something out to those individuals who believe this: I have ZERO TIES to Bishop Gorman. I didn’t attend high school there, and none of my children went to school there when they lived in Vegas. The only high school I will root for weekly, to win every game they play is my former high school in California, Upland high school.

 

Photo Credit: Bishop Gorman High School

Now, if I were to favor any school in Las Vegas, it would be Centennial High School, where I coached for three and a half years and have relationships with those kids, their parents, and the coaching staff. The same can be said for Canyon Springs High School, where the Athletic Director is a close friend of mine. I also know the head coach and most of the staff at Legacy High School exceptionally well.

 

As a media member, I root for intriguing and exciting storylines, kids to be successful on and off the field, and most of all, good Friday Night Football. I go to games that I feel are the best games that week and have storylines that I think Las Vegas would like to know about. That is also how we send our FSM staff out to cover games.

I have been to one and a half of Bishop Gorman’s games this year, while I have been to five of Las Vegas High School games, three Centennial games, and two Desert Pines, Legacy, and Canyon Springs games. The Gorman games I went to were early in the year (the Orem high school game and the first half of the Silverado High School game, which I left at halftime to go to the historic Centennial vs. Arbor View game).

I’ve known Anthony since I moved to Las Vegas, and there might not be too many men like him around anymore. Ant is class personified and has a heart of gold.

This guy buys cleats for teens that can’t afford them at various high schools in Vegas, as long as they write an essay explaining to him why he should help and their plan for the future. He has brought boxing champion Shawn Porter to speak at high schools after practice and will show up with 15-20 pizzas to feed the football team after workouts as well.

If you think coaches and players don’t like him, you’re nuts. He gets told things that would shock most “fans” and won’t release the information until the time is right, if ever. I know of MULTIPLE instances of high school administrators and athletic directors asking him not to report something because they don’t want to deal with the backlash, even as recently as a few weeks ago.

Just as they have asked him not to report things, he is also quick to tell them that he is here for the kids, not the school, and he will do what is right.

How can a guy who attended Basic high school, be a homer for another local high school that, like me, he has zero ties too? He doesn’t have children or family members that go to Bishop Gorman, so what would he get out of it?

Anthony wants every school in Vegas to do well because it’s good for the city and helps get young athletes recruited.

I have seen, on multiple occasions, specific individuals on twitter accuse Ant of the same things they accuse me of, or worse. They question his character, integrity, and make threatening remarks towards him, only to turn and play the victim when he points out that they wouldn’t say it to his face.

 

It’s also equally as sad that these adults make up lies and baseless accusations towards teenagers playing football or any sport at another local high school.

 

These same individuals have been making disturbing accusations about a particular player who transferred into Bishop Gorman from California. They claim that the player was recruited to go to Gorman since he is a  player who is rated the top at his position for his class nationally.

When LA Times sports columnist Eric Sondheimer broke the story of the player moving, I reached out directly to the player who confirmed that he was indeed moving to Las Vegas and attending Bishop Gorman. The player also said that he had no idea that he was moving to Vegas until a few days before the move took place when his parents told him and his family. He said he didn’t talk to anyone from Bishop Gorman until after he completed the admissions application.

I spoke to coaches at Bishop Gorman, who also said the same thing. They had no idea the player was coming. They had no contact with him before his family filling out the admission application. They also said that they were shocked and that when they did speak to him and his parents, there were no promises made other than he would get an excellent education and be able to compete on the field.

California’s high school sports governing body, CIF, and the NIAA did an investigation into the transfer and cleared the player and the school. They found that there was no contact with the player or his family at all before the admissions application being filled out. They took statements from the parents and verified them. They also confirmed that another rumor of a trainer being hired as a coach at Gorman was also a fabricated story coming from vindictive individuals who were upset that the player and his family moved. Lastly, they also found that accusations about any recruiting of the player in question to Bishop Gorman were not true and had no validity to them.

 

Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

Why does this even matter to me or have anything to do with this Unapologetic Truth? Because the individuals who are making false claims about the player and Bishop Gorman are the same ones who are attacking Anthony and myself, making false accusations about us and attacking our credibility.

I wonder if the person tweeting these accusations works for a school in a prominent role, and is using multiple twitter accounts to hide their identity for fear of getting exposed, and the backlash they’ll receive.  Like potentially losing their job? ????????

 

It is easy to say, “Bishop Gorman recruits its players, and that’s why they are so good.” It’s also lazy and implies that the local kids who are playing for them aren’t as good as others from out of state. Also that the coaches there aren’t good developing young athletes on and off the field.

Am I foolish enough to think recruiting doesn’t happen at Bishop Gorman? No, I’m not, but the NIAA rules state that private schools have open enrollment, so it isn’t a violation of any sort. Take another private school in Vegas, say a school like Faith Lutheran, they could also use open enrollment as a tool if they chose to do so per the rules. Would there be backlash if they did?

I also know that recruiting happens at other public schools in Las Vegas, as well. Do I have proof of this? Yes, I do. I also have people who have gone on record, with evidence proving what I speak of to be the truth. Why then haven’t I released or broke the news exposing those who are taking advantage of kids and their families? Because I am also thinking about those same kids and how it would affect them down the road and long term.

I received threats after my recent tweets (on October 25th) regarding the sideline altercation that happened between a player and a coach that was caught on live television locally here in Las Vegas. I expressed my concerns and particular questions, ones that others have as well, but I’m the bad guy for asking the tough questions?

Do I wish any ill will towards anyone, coach or player over at Desert Pines High School? No, of course not. Why would I? I have kids that I previously coached as well as a little cousin that attend and play football there. But I also have a job to do, and if I didn’t ask those tough questions, then I’m not doing my job. Nor am I doing justice to those who are also in my line of work. Sometimes people have to take a look in the mirror and realize that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. There wouldn’t be any questions without the questionable actions that led to them.

Let’s be honest, Las Vegas needs Bishop Gorman football to do well.

Coaches, parents, and superfans need to put their ego and pride aside and realize that for years, no one from a big-time program was rushing to come to Las Vegas for players. Were there exceptions to this? Absolutely. There are still exceptions, but this was the rule. In a lot of instances, it still is the rule. When Bishop Gorman started having their success nationally, is when Power-5 schools began to come to Las Vegas to watch players.

Gorman’s success brought those coaches out, and they would plan their trips around going to Gorman. Then they’d visit other high schools. The Power-5 coaches would reach out to those people they know and trust, including the high school coach, to swing by and hopefully find the diamond in the rough. They weren’t jumping on a plane or driving up the 15 to see a kid from a particular high school (not named Bishop Gorman).

Would I love to see a few other schools give Bishop Gorman a run for their money? Yes, no, make that a HELL YES. Bishop Gorman would like that too. Unfortunately, we are not quite there yet. DP and Liberty are outstanding programs, Centennial and Las Vegas are also back, and Canyon Springs, Arbor View and Legacy all remain very good. None of them are at the caliber of Gorman.

When you are trying to compare what you want to be to the local program, but that program is comparing itself to national high school powerhouses, you still have a ways to go. That by no means is a slight to those coaches or players, but they are the facts. I have a ton of respect for the programs mentioned above, those coaches and players, but the bar is different for you at this time.

Will that change? I believe so, but it won’t be overnight. It’s going to take time and a select group of coaches and players to do it. But look at how far and how much more improved high school football is here in Vegas over the past five years.

I also don’t think making Gorman play teams in California is the answer. Did people have this issue when the high school in Nothern Nevada was winning multiple state titles? Is the backlash from parents because their child got their butt handed to them in losses by Gorman? Could it be because they didn’t get accepted into Gorman? ????

Growing up in California, we had Fontana, Eisenhower, Mater Dei, Bishop Amat, De La Salle, and in recent years St. John Bosco, Corona Centennial, and Vista Murrietta. Upland wasn’t a powerhouse, we won our first-ever CIF title there in 1995-1996, but it turned that school from a baseball school to a football school, and the city got behind us. While Mater Dei, Bosco, Centennial, and De La Salle remain powerhouses, make no mistake about it, they openly recruit. The difference is that the CIF did a better job making the playoff format one that allows the schools to compete for a state title in a more fair and balanced way.

 

Photo Credit: Bishop Gorman High School

As much as some don’t want to admit it, the athletes in Las Vegas need Gorman to remain a national power. This is the highest Gorman has been rated since 2016 (currently ranked 13th in the country, according to USA Today). They are young and will be even better next year. I don’t think some of the schools are afraid to play Gorman, but I do believe some have false swagger and false confidence. I also fear if that if those schools lose by a certain amount to the Gaels, there will be a mass exodus of players out of those schools to other local schools.

Another example of this was announced on Monday when The 2019 GEICO Football Bowl Series announced publicly that it has a new home in Las Vegas. Two games, opponents to be determined, will be played at Bishop Gorman High School December 20-21 and aired on ESPN Networks. That High School Football Bowl Series wasn’t coming to Centennial, Desert Pines, Clark, Faith Lutheran, Legacy, or any other high school in Las Vegas, whether you want to admit it or not…

Those are the facts.

Unapologetic Truth

Joe Arrigo

http://twitter.com/joearrigo

http://twitter.com/thefranchiselv

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Unapologetic Truth  Las Vegas High School Football   Unapologetic Truth  Las Vegas High School Football   

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

Unapologetic Truth UNLV Football Las Vegas High School Football

 

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