Utah Ray blocked a punt and ran it back 52 yards for a score as part of a dominating night for the Pahranagat Valley High football team as they began defense of their six straight NIAA Division IV state championships.
On offense, Wade Leavitt had 103 receiving yards, 71 rushing yards and three total touchdowns Friday to help host Pahranagat Valley to a 60-0 win over Sandy Valley.
“We knew we could run on these guys, so that’s what we did,” Leavitt said. “And we like to focus on run defense and that’s what they did a lot tonight, so we stopped them there.”
Ray said, “I was just supposed to try to block the punt. Coach said there would be two guys to block me, so I was just basically to go in and jam everything up. I didn’t expect to block the ball, but I did, and the ball just bounced right back up into my hands.”
Tabor Maxwell was 11 of 15 for 173 yards (2,142 on the season, 30 touchdowns), and three TDs for the Panthers, including a 61-yard score to Leavitt, and teammate Jordan Cryts had seven carries for 70 yards and two scores. Leavitt’s season totals are 1,220 yards, 85 carries, 26 touchdowns. Cryts has 494 yards on 41 carries and six touchdowns.
Shawn Wadsworth scored on a 3-yard rushing touchdown and had two receiving scores for the Panthers, who led 40-0 at halftime. Pahranagat Valley (10-0) will host Carlin (6-4) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. on Nov. 14.
In the first ever playoff game for Sandy Valley (6-4) in their seven year history, Lane Eastham had 25 carries for 58 yards. Eastham said, as in the regular season meeting, Alamo just didn’t let Sandy Valley “do much of anything,” including running the ball, limiting them to only six first downs, and 86 yards total offense. They had 71 yards rushing on 38 attempts. Eastham was 2-of-6 passing for 15 yards.
The Sidewinders two main running backs, Alexis Fijardo and James Rau didn’t play, out with injuries. Coach Brett Kramer said he was proud of the team, especially the four seniors who had endured a couple of one-or-two win seasons before finally earning a spot in the playoffs. “I felt like we played tougher this time and I was happy that we showed more toughness even when we were down 40 or 50 points. I feel like we were more prepared, but they (Alamo) just execute so well, through and through they are so fundamentally sound.”
Pahranagat coach Ken Higbee noted the team speed of the Panthers was a great factor in overpowering Sandy Valley. “The kids looked fast tonight.
A good week of practice equals great performance on the field. That’s what we’re seeing, the kids are refocusing and what you are seeing are kids coming to practice knowing what they want to do, knowing what we want to do and what our expectations are, and then executing that. The kids are doing what we asked them to do.”
PVHS is 9-2 against Carlin since 2004 and have shutout the Railroaders in the last four meetings, outscoring them 210-0, including 42-0 in the 2011 state championship.
Carlin is the last team to beat the Panthers before their current 79 game win streak began, 26-24 in the 2007 state semifinals at Carlin.
The Railroaders, No. 1 in the East, surprised a revitalized Whittell Warriors team in Zephyr Cove Friday night. Whittell (9-2) drove to the Carlin 10 yard line in the final minute, but had third and fourth down passes into the end zone go incomplete and Carlin took over to run out the clock for a 34-30 win.
Carlin comes into the game with Pahranagat Valley having a better yards per game rushing average, 353.9 to Alamo’s 272.3. But, the Panthers have a much better passing ratio, 224.2 yards per game to 19.7 for the Railroaders. And the points per game average heavily favors Pahranagat, 62.4 to 32 for Carlin.
Senior Julian Mireles is the leading rusher for Carlin this season, 1,237 yards, (137.4 per game), and nine touchdowns. Senior Wade Leavitt leads the Panthers 1,149 yards (127.7 per game), and 25 touchdowns.
As a quarterback comparison, sophomore Tabor Maxwell averages 220.2 yards per game to only 22.1 for Carlin senior Dennis Branning. Alamo averages 496.6 total yards per game and Carlin averages 373.6
The teams have three common opponents this season: Wells, Virginia City and Round Mountain. Carlin split with Wells and lost to Round Mountain and Virginia City. Pahranagat Valley was a winner over all three.
Game time is 6 p.m. NIAA playoff prices will apply.