Going into Friday’s final home game against Sandy Valley, the Panthers are riding a 75-game winning streak that rivals some of the great high school streaks ever.
It is unique in high school football for any team to have a winning streak that reaches 75 games. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, only nine teams have accomplished or exceeded that. The all time record is by De La Salle High of Concord, Calif. with 151 from 1992 – 2003.
The longest win streak for 8-man teams is 92 by Shattuck, Okla., 2003 – 2009.
Pahranagat Valley’s streak, which earned it national attention on a recent NBC Nightly News segment, is now listed as No. 9 on the all-time list.
It began in 2008, the year after the Panthers lost to Carlin 26-24 in the state semi-finals. Since then they have reeled off 75 consecutive wins, the longest active streak in the nation, at any level, utterly smashing the previous Nevada state record of 41 held by The Meadows, 1998-2001, and Truckee, Calif., 2009-2012.
The first win of the streak, which has resulted in a state record of six consecutive state championships, was 42-12 over Wells Aug. 29, 2008. Most of the games have been by fairly wide spread margins. For a few years, until the running clock rule was put in, the game would be over at halftime or shortly after, under the 45-point mercy rule. With the advent of the running clock in the second half, the younger kids got some playing time, when the outcome was already well decided.
The highest score in the series was a state semi-final game in Alamo Nov. 15, 2008 with Northern Division champion Coleville. The final was 128-74, which may still rank nationally as the highest single game score ever by an 8-man team. A record 17 touchdowns were scored in the game. Losing coach Will Sandy later said, “I would have never believed we would score 74 points and get beat by 54.”
The closest score in the streak was the very next game, the 2008 state championship, a 22-18 win over defending champion Tonopah.
However, it is likely the two biggest challenges to the streak continuing were games with Joshua Springs, Calif., in 2010 and 2011, both times the defending California state champion. In the first game, the Panthers drove the length field in the final four minutes and scored on Cody Hosier’s pass to Kale Leavitt with 1:17 remaining which tied the game at 20. A missed point after try sent the game into overtime. PVHS scored on the first play of overtime, then Chase Hansen intercepted a Joshua Springs pass into the end zone for a thrilling 28-20 victory.
The following year, at Joshua Springs, Alamo trailed 36-14 in the fourth quarter, before quarterback Austin Poulsen rallied the Panthers to 36 points in the final 12 minutes to escape with a 50-42 win.
The most ambitious year was 2010 when the Panthers played four games with out of state teams, Challis and Carey, Idaho, and Joshua Springs and Avalon, Calif., and won them all.
Quite a few players have earned All League and All state honors over the years. Tyler Higbee, Austin Poulsen, and Jake Carter have all been named the League Most Valuable Player in their time. Carter’s award in 2013 was quite unusual as he was an offensive and defensive lineman, one of the first ever players at that position to receive the MVP. Others named to the All League teams have included Cody Hosier, Taylor Poulsen, Kyle Mulliner, Austin Poulsen, Derek Hansen, Kale Leavitt, Kade Wadsworth, Brady Whipple, Chase Hansen, and a host of others.
Long time coach Dr. Ken Higbee, the only one of the current Panther coaches who did not graduate from PVHS, has three other state championships to his credit in 2001, 2005 and 2006, as well as being state runner up in 2003 and 2004. In other words, Pahranagat Valley has been in the NIAA Division IV state championship game 11 of the last 12 years and won nine times, a feat perhaps only surpassed by the Pahranagat Valley girls volleyball team’s 18 consecutive appearances in the state championship game with 15 wins.
Someday the football streak will end, everybody knows that, but for now, for the fans, and the players, the thrill of victory is still in the autumn air.