Something new in the boys Division IV Southern League this season is it has expanded to 12 teams.
Quest Academy in Las Vegas and Beaver Dam in Littlefield, Ariz., join the league as full members. However, Pahranagat athletic director Brad Loveday said the Quest Academy teams have had all their league games cancelled by the NIAA.
“Right now there are a multiple of things that could happen,” he said. “A team might still be able to play them as a non-counting game, or they might not play them at all, that will be up to the coaches. Things are still up in the air at this point. We are awaiting word as to what is going to happen. League president Jamie Malloy is expected to make an official ruling sometime this week and send us an email.”
Pahranagat is scheduled to play Quest Academy in Alamo Jan. 31. The boys begin the season this Saturday with a non-league home game against Indian Springs.
During Christmas break, between Christmas and New Years, Pahranagat Valley has two games at home on the schedule. Eureka on Dec. 27 and White Pine on Dec. 30. Both the boys and girls JV and varsity teams will be involved.
The boys had an off year in 2013, slipping to 8-18 after having a run of four consecutive state titles. They did make the league playoffs, but lost out in the semi-finals. Still Leavitt and Maxwell were named as Second Team All Conference.
Coach Mike Strong begins his second season at the helm, and says the young team they had last year, with just one senior, is more experienced now.
The Panthers return four of their starters, Wade Leavitt and Tabor Maxwell, Shawn Wadsworth and Cody Williams. “I’m hoping things will go a lot better this year than last year,” Strong said. “We were really young, but we had a very good offseason and good summer, and the kids have actually grown physically, too, and we expect to be very competitive this year.”
Pahranagat will have senior guard Jordan Crytz back in the lineup to go along with some good heighth this year. Senior Joel Holaday and freshman Cullen Higbee are both about 6-7. Others who have grown taller include Jacob Roemer 6-2, Paden Higbee 6-2½, and Geoff Mortensen 6-3.
Assistant coaches for the Panthers will be Ken Higbee and Brandon Hosier with the varsity and Brett Hansen and Mike Strong Jr, with the JV.
Senior dominated Adelson (18-3) is expected to return three of their starters from last year, including League MVP Rom Izkovich, along with sophomore Jake Buchman who was a First Team All Conference selection, and Spring Mountain (14-14) will likely be strong again.