This year, and for just the second time since before 2000, there will be a rematch of the same teams that played for the NIAA Division IV state championship last year. The most recent was Coleville and Pahranagat in 2009 and 2010.
This Saturday, Pahranagat Valley (11-0), the five-time defending state champions, ranked No. 20 in the MaxPreps Freeman national 8-man rankings, meets the Spring Mountain Eagles, (8-2), ranked No. 124, for the title at Indian Springs High. Game time 1 p.m.
Pahranagat won the 2012 title over the Eagles 26-18.
The championship had been planned for Reno, but Spring Mountain’s 38-35 upset of Wells, and Pahranagat 62-14 win over Coleville, set up an all-south final, causing the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association to make the change of venue.
It is only the second time Spring Mountain has been in the championship game. Pahranagat Valley has 68 straight wins, the longest active winning streak in the nation.
In their semifinal win over Wells last week, Eagles quarterback Joshua Banasiak was a virtual one-man show, engineering a comeback from a 21-6 deficit, and took over even more in the second half.
He blistered Wells with 318 yards passing on 13 of 26, his best performance of the season. And he was also the team’s leading rusher with 62 yards gained on 20 carries and four TDs. Arias Jefferson had 13 carries for 32 yards. Wide receiver Valmir Bojku had six receptions for 172 yards, and Isaiah Saromines had five catches for 100 yards.
In comparing the two teams, Spring Mountain lost to the Panthers 54-22 in league play Sept. 27. The Eagles average 51.2 points per game, while allowing 30.2.
Pahranagat Valley prides itself on disciplined execution by the players, and control of the line of scrimmage. Coach Ken Higbee has often said, “When you control the line, good things happen.”
PVHS averages 55.1 points per game, and giving up just 10.6. The most the Panthers have allowed is 22 points, in the first Spring Mountain game.
On paper, Pahranagat has the advantage. The Panthers averages 259.2 yards rushing per game, and Spring Mountain 182.5. Passing yardage averages per game favors Pahranagat 176.2 to 221.0.
Alamo also has the advantage in total yards per game, 473.9 to Spring Mountain’s 359.4.
Eagles senior quarterback Joshua Banasiak has 1,402 yards passing (175.3 per game average), 26 touchdown passes, and eight interceptions. At the same time, he is one of the Eagles leading rushers with 70 carries for 285 yards and six touchdowns. Jefferson is the team leader with 692 yards on 80 carries, a 86.5 per game average, and six touchdowns.
Playing behind an outstanding offensive front line of Jake Carter, Paden Higbee, Utah Ray, plus ends Shawn Wadsworth and Jeremy Minick, the Panthers have the 1150 backfield: MCL, Maxwell, Cryts, and Leavitt. In Roman numerals the figure is 1150.
Freshman quarterback Tabor Maxwell has two active school records this season, 2,417 yards passing (219.7 per game average) and 38 touchdown passes. He has thrown six interceptions.
Wade Leavitt is the Panthers leading rusher, 1,130 yards (113 per game average), and 13 touchdowns, with Jordan Cryts having 594 yards and 12 touchdowns. Caleb Hansen has 485 yards and seven touchdowns.
Leavitt is the southern Nevada scoring leader with 166 points, 24 TDs, and 11 2-point conversions. Cryts is third on the points list with 138 and 18 touchdowns.
The Panthers have a quartet of fine receivers. Leavitt has 41 receptions, 768 yards, 11 touchdowns. Cryts has 18 catches for 398 yards and six touchdowns. Minick has 38 receptions, 463 yards, 10 TDs, and Wadsworth, 29 catches, 614 yards and eight TDs.
For Spring Mountain, Valmir Bojku is the leading receiver with 37 catches, 635 yards and 15 TDs.
Jake Carter for Pahranagat has 76 tackles on the season. For Spring Mountain, Banasiak has 68.
Carter also leads PVHS in sacks with 5.5, Leavitt has five.
Jordan Cryts is the southern Nevada leader in interceptions with 7, Minick has five.