It wasn’t Independence Day last week for Pahranagat Valley’s football home opener against Independence, a school from Elko. Rather, it was Sophomore Day.
Sophomore quarterback Preston Higbee was 13-for-19 passing for 204 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score to lead Pahranagat Valley to a 52-0 crushing over Independence on Friday.
Meanwhile, sophomore running back Jesse Jones led the team in rushing with 71 yards and receiving with 81 yards. Jones had touchdown catches of 56 and 25 yards for Pahranagat (2-0), which led 44-0 at halftime. Together, the duo helped the Panthers amass 402 yards of total offense.
Coach Brett Hansen said Independence is a young team, only having played football since 2014 after dropping the sport in 2009. “They get these new kids every year (similar to Spring Mountain), and they work with them and do their best, so we appreciate their wanting to come to Alamo and give us a game.”
John Hansen and Brodey Maxwell each added a rushing touchdown, and Stockton Maxwell and Richard Lewis both had a TD catch for the Panthers.
Hansen said Higbee is “starting to mold himself into a pretty good quarterback and having those three senior linemen up front (Garett Higbee, Duston Stewart, Chris Thornton), is kind of nice to have a sophomore quarterback.”
On Jones, Hansen said, “He adds depth to a position right now that we needed. He is picking it up quick, a smart kid.” Jones played PeeWee football in Alamo when his family lived here before moving to Oregon for a few years ago, but has returned.
Independence coach Mikell Beardall said his team, with only 13 players, having now played Tonopah and Pahranagat, “some of the best in the south will help make us ready for our own league,” (1A Northern -East).
The Panthers dominated the first half of play, scoring on their first four possessions and forcing the Colts to punt on each of their possessions.
Richard Lewis took a 26-yard touchdown pass from Higbee at 10:57 of the first quarter. Then, four minutes later, as PVHS threatened deep in the red zone again, Brodey Maxwell broke loose for an 8-yard scoring run. Two minutes after that, Jones took a swing pass from Higbee and sprinted 56 yards down the near side line for another touchdown.
A lot of the substitutes played much of the second half for the Panthers.
Hansen, although pleased with the win, said the team still has “lots of things to improve on. We are standing up a lot, on tackling we’ve got to get better, and penalties are just mental mistakes. Those will hurt you when it matters. Plus, we have to get better on our blocking footwork.”
This week the Panthers host Carlin in a non-league game Friday at 6 p.m. This was to be a league game with Sandy Valley, but the Sidewinders canceled their season after not having enough players turn out for football.
Carlin and PVHS last played in 2014 when Pahranagat won 60-8. Wade Leavitt rushed for 223 yards and five touchdowns that day in a state semifinal game.
One might also remember Carlin was the last team to beat Pahranagat in the state semi-finals in 2007 before the long winning streak occurred.
The game will also be the first of three games in September when high school teams all across America will raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital to fight childhood cancer with each touchdown scored.