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All 96 Nevada high school football teams honored on Raiders’ giant helmet wall

Updated September 30, 2021 - 10:43 am

Helmet to helmet contact on the football field generally is frowned upon.

But at Allegiant Stadium on the 100 level (where most of the high-priced seats are), it was well received by local high school football programs.

The Raiders last week lowered the curtain on a new display at their palatial digs that features full-sized helmets of Nevada prep football teams. From Arbor View to Yerington, every school — 96 in all — now has its hat hanging on the wall.

“BATTLE BORN” it says in big, bold letters above the colorful helmets and face masks. “THE RAIDERS SALUTE NEVADA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL.”

At the top of the display, there’s a quote from Al Davis: “The greatness of the Raiders is in its future.”

While I’m not certain the franchise patriarch was referring to the Arbor View helmet (red with a white AV decal in which the V sports steer horn flourishes) or the Yerington one (white with a big purple Y), this was only the latest example of the Raiders going above and beyond — the display rises about 50 feet above the concourse — to recognize local high schools.

A generous start

The synergy between the organization and the schools began in 2018 when the team wrote a check for $35,000 so students at Robert Taylor Elementary in Henderson (and four schools to be named later) didn’t have to go to school hungry — an act of generosity that made an educator cry.

“They struggle with things like shoes and clothes and socks and underwear and those basic things,” Robert Taylor principal Kim Basham said of her students while choking back tears.

In January 2020, the Raiders made a $250,000 grant through the NFL Foundation’s Grassroots Program so a new synthetic playing surface could be installed at Rancho High. (A few months later, the Clark County School District announced it would convert 29 other high school football fields in Southern Nevada to artificial turf.)

Last year, after COVID essentially canceled the high school football season, the Raiders opened Allegiant Stadium for prep practice. You should have seen the wide eyes when the young players lined up in the tunnel before running onto the field.

“Since announcing that Las Vegas was going to be home for the Raiders, they have done a phenomenal job when it comes to high school football,” Centennial coach Dustin Forshee said. “Getting to scrimmage where the Raiders play, that’s pretty awesome.”

Like a good neighbor …

Further goodwill between the Raiders and the high schools was engendered at the start of the 2021 season with resumption of the “Friday Night Showcase.” Each Friday, the Raiders, in concert with sponsor Intermountain Healthcare, select a high school matchup in Southern Nevada or Southern Utah to spotlight.

Raiders alumni and cheerleaders have a presence at the game while signing autographs, giving away Raiders merchandise and assisting with the pregame coin toss.

The Raiders also recognize a Coach of the Week in Southern Nevada and make a $1,000 donation in his name to the school’s football program.

At the conclusion of the season, one such coach will be named the Tom Flores High School Coach of the Year in honor of the Hall of Fame coach and will be the Raiders’ nominee for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award.

When it comes to being a good neighbor, it might be hard to beat the State Farm Insurance people who would have you believe they have better hands than rival Allstate and Fred Biletnikoff combined.

But based on their generosity and community service to local high schools, it would appear the Raiders are at least giving that Jake guy who wears the khaki pants something to think about.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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