There are big fishes in small ponds, and then there is the Silverado High football team — the whale in the lagoon of 17 Class 4A teams that stayed behind when the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association created a 5A division in 2020.
By definition, a whale isn’t a big fish. It’s a fully aquatic marine mammal.
But if the reigning 4A champions changed their nickname from the Skyhawks to the Fighting Orcas, their opponents would totally get it.
“They’re a top-three or -four team, period,” said Centennial coach Dustin Forshee after his 5A Bulldogs lost 57-7 to Silverado in the season opener. “They’re well-coached, they’re tough. They’ll be in 5A next year, and they’ll be able to play the Libertys, the DPs (Desert Pines), the Arbors (View) and all those schools.”
But Andy Ostolaza, Silverado’s mild-mannered coach, doesn’t seem in a hurry to swim with the 5A sharks.
Bridging the gap
“I’ve told people this from the get go — the NIAA got it right when they created (a 5A class),” Ostolaza said after Silverado routed previously undefeated Coronado 43-0 Friday in a game shortened by the mercy rule running clock.
“Gorman and Liberty built their programs to the point a (new class) had to be created. Our goals have been the same: We want to win our region, we want to get back to the state championship game, we want to get back to Allegiant (Stadium). I don’t care if it’s the half-A state title — a state title is a state title.”
There are a lot of games still to be played and a somewhat mystical rating formula called a rubric that must be applied before next year’s divisions are set on a sport-by-sport basis. But Silverado was third in rubric points last year behind Bishop Gorman and Liberty.
“If Silverado were to hold somewhere in that general area, yes, they would move up to 5A,” NIAA spokesman Bartt Davis said after reading the tea leaves and rubric Ouija board. “But that has to go through our realignment committee first. We’ll meet at the end of the November, and then it goes to the board of control in January for approval.”
With all those checks and balances, Ostolaza hasn’t stayed abreast of the realignment process, but he conceded “I imagine that’s gonna be the case” that the Skyhawks will move up.
“But a lot of 4A teams are doing really well,” he said. “Coronado does well, Shadow Ridge, (Las) Vegas, Basic. They’re winning a lot of games right now, and they’re beating a bunch of 5A opponents. It’s gonna be interesting to see how this all plays out.”
Timing is everything, at least until the running clock begins. But as Forshee alluded to, it might be interesting to see how a Silverado squad led by UCLA commit Donavyn Pellot and backfield sidekick Caden Harris, quarterback Brandon Tunnell and twin brother/favorite receiver Bryson, 330-pound interior line battering ram Jammal Boyd and defensive anchor Chris Federico would measure up in 5A right now.
Thirty of Silverado’s 43 varsity players are seniors, the majority of whom have significantly contributed to a 16-0 record since the start of the 2021 season and a 61-27 victory over Shadow Ridge in last year’s state title game on the Allegiant Stadium carpet.
“Hopefully, we don’t get banged up or anything, but the thing we knew coming back was we had some pretty high-end skill guys,” said Ostolaza, whose Skyhawks will host Chaparral in their Desert League opener Friday. “Now that the offensive line is coming through and our defensive front is as good as it’s ever been …”
Last year’s recipient of the Raiders’ Tom Flores High School Coach of the Year award got sidetracked and didn’t finish the thought. But suffice to say it’s going to take an industrial-sized harpoon to prevent his team from exiting the Class 4A pond with another monumental splash.