The new era for Pahranagat Valley High football began Aug. 29 in Alamo. With an untested freshman quarterback at the controls for the first time in 10 years, and a young backfield, the Panthers opened the season with a 48-22 non-league win against visiting Wells. It was the first time Wells had played in Alamo since 2009.
Tabor Maxwell sparkled at quarterback for the Panthers, setting a new school single game passing yardage record (since 2003) of 310 yards on 15 for 26 attempts.
He had three touchdowns, all to junior receiver Wade Leavitt, and was 12 for 16 for 247 yards in the first half, leading Pahranagat Valley to a 40-8 lead over the Leopards at the break.
The previous single-game record was 299 yards by Austin Poulsen in 2011.
Alamo scored on all eight possessions in the first half.
Wells is a veteran team, returning all but two from last year and have 11 seniors on the squad this season.
However, coach Steve Rodriguez said he was not pleased with the play of his team. “They couldn’t tackle in the open field. If you don’t do that, it’s tough to win games. They caught us out of position a few times with their short passing game. You’ve got to make the plays and we didn’t.”
Pahranagat coach Ken Higbee said, “Our kids came out in the first half and executed like we knew they would. On defense, the linebackers stepped up and filled their rolls. I’m really proud of our up front guys, they controlled the line of scrimmage. Still, we did see things we really need to work on.”
Jeremy Minick and Jake Carter recorded six tackles each.
The Panthers let up a little bit in the second half giving up two scores, and allowing the second string quite a bit of playing time.
Pahranagat Valley took the opening kickoff and moved to the 5-yard line and Leavitt scored at 7:41 in the first quarter. Leavitt had two more TDs in the second quarter.
Wells came right back, moved the ball down field and tied the score 8-8.
But junior Jordan Crytz ran back the ensuing kickoff 72 yards for Pahranagat Valley giving them a 14-8 lead. He also scored on a 77-yard punt return in the third quarter.
Maxwell engineered a four-play scoring drive in the second quarter after stopping Wells at the 16-yard line. He hit Leavitt twice on back-to-back long passes, a 40-yarder, and a 35-yard touchdown strike. Leavitt had eight catches for 194 yards. He also rushed for 60 yards on 15 carries.
“I felt a little nervous, starting my first high school game, but after the first play, it all kind of went away,” Maxwell said. “I thought we played pretty well all around. We ran the ball well, too (95 yards on 25 carries). Our offensive and defensive line did an excellent job and really executed.”
As the Panthers are a young team, having only two seniors, Higbee said he envisions the team only getting better. “With every repetition they get, they will improve, maybe more than any team I have ever had because of our youth.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Higbee said, “For our first game, I thought we came out and played sharp, executed pretty well. We did a nice job.”
Maxwell is not the running QB like the team has known in the past 10 years, “but his passing shows great promise,” Higbee said. “His footwork is coming along, we’ve spent a lot of time on that, making sure it improves each day. He can throw the ball, he’s real accurate. Our line gave him tremendous amounts of time, and Tabor was real effective and efficient. And we mixed it up good, they (Wells) didn’t know what was coming, run or pass.”
Kobee Wade was the last freshman to start at quarterback for Pahranagat Valley in 2003.
This week, Sept. 6, Pahranagat Valley (1-0) travels to Wallis Annenberg High, a school in downtown Los Angeles, that also has the team name Panthers. It’s the season opener for Annenberg, which was 6-5 in 2012, and runner-up in the Los Angeles City Section 8-Man finals under first year coach Charles Burnley.
The game is expected to be webcast on the Lincoln County Telephone website, www.lctsys.com at 7 p.m.
It will be the first time PVHS has played a Los Angeles team. They have played two other California teams each twice in the past, Joshua Springs, and Avalon from Santa Catalina Island.