Dave Maxwell Pahranagat Valley coach Ken Higbee talks with his players after the Panthers season-opening win at Wells. PVHS will travel to Ojai, Calif., today to take on Thacher Academy.

Dave Maxwell
Pahranagat Valley coach Ken Higbee talks with his players after the Panthers season-opening win at Wells. PVHS will travel to Ojai, Calif., today to take on Thacher Academy.

Fresh from a week off, after dispatching the Wells Leopards 62-20 to open the season, Pahranagat Valley travels for a non-league game to Thacher Academy in Ojai (O-hi), Calif. this afternoon at 4 p.m.

Thacher is a co-educational, independent boarding school, about 20 miles north of Ventura. Opened in 1889 as a boys school, girls were first admitted in 1977. Enrollment is about 235.

Unique to the school is their equestrian and outdoor programs which sets Thacher apart from other boarding schools. All students are required to ride and care for a horse during their freshman year.

Pahranagat Valley, since 2004, is 15-1 against out-of-state opponents, 9-1 against California teams, Coleville included.

Thacher, which only started playing football in 2002, was the CIF Division I eight-man runner up in 2014, losing to Mohave (near Lancaster), in the state finals 21-20 after failing on a field goal try in the final seconds.

Nicknamed the Toads, Thacher has made their league playoffs each year since starting football in 2002, but lost 13 key players to graduation in 2014 and, according to local reports will admittedly, “be thin at the skill positions this year, but they always seem to have someone step up.”

A mix of youth and experience are what coach Jeff Hopper says he has for this year’s squad. “We’re much younger, but we’re eager to play them (Pahranagat) because our players can learn a lot.”

Junior inside linebacker Jacque Robles (6-1, 195) is back after leading the Toads in tackles (50 solo, 40 assisted) last season. Junior defensive end Laurence Jackson (6-1, 170) returns bigger and stronger, “and should be a force rushing the quarterback,” said Hooper. Senior Tucker Bennett will anchor the line. And Thacher is favored to win their league title again this season.

In the meantime, early season injuries have sidelined Hagan Huntsman and Ike Taylor for the Panthers, both out for about 4-6 weeks. Huntsman has a broken collarbone, and Taylor a severe ankle sprain.

Ken Maxwell hopes to be able to have a live play-by-play broadcast, audio only, on www.lctsys.com.