Summer days and summer nights have been rolling along, and in less than a month, the excitement of Friday Night Lights and high school football begins again.
Lincoln County and Pahranagat Valley high schools both open the season Aug. 26 with home games. Lincoln plays host to Pershing County and Pahranagat hosts Wells.
Surprisingly, high school football began in the United States in the late 19th century, concurrent with the start of many college football programs.
Various sports historians note that in the late 19th and early 20th century, many college and high school teams played against one another. Other traditions of high school football such as pep rallies, marching bands, mascots, and homecomings are mirrored in college football.
Playing high school ball is the first level of play in which a player will accumulate statistics, which will determine his chances of competing at the college level, and ultimately the professional level if he is talented enough.
The first recorded high school football rivalry dates from May 12, 1875 between Norwich Free Academy of Norwich, Connecticut, and New London High of New London, Connecticut. It later became one of the original Thanksgiving Day games. According to the National Federation of High School Sports, the oldest public high school football rivalry dates from 1882 between Wellesley High of Wellesley, Massachusetts, and Needham High of Needham, Massachusetts. They still play annually.
There are at least 115 rivalries between high school teams that are over 100 years old, and many more that are not that old.
The oldest continuous rivalry in Nevada is “The Bone Game,” between the two oldest schools in Las Vegas, Rancho and Las Vegas High, both members of the Division I Northwest league. It began in 1957. The winner each year takes possession of the “Sir Herkimer Bone,” a large cow bone that is preserved in bronze until the following year. Las Vegas beat Rancho 49-0 last year, and are at least 12-0 against Rancho since 2004.
Here in Lincoln County, both Pahranagat Valley and Lincoln High were in the state finals last year. Pahranagat won their eighth consecutive state Division IV title as well as tying the national 8-man record of 93 wins in a row. Lincoln lost to Yerington in the Division III finals. However, in its history the Lynx have won the state title four times and been runners-up three times.
Lincoln football goes back into the 1930s when they played in the field that is now south of the Highway 319 that goes from the Y Station intersection with U.S. 93 into town.
Alamo also had football in the late 1930s and up until World War II came along. Then the program was stopped, except for a couple years, in the late 50s, and not restarted until 1973.
Pahranagat Valley is tied with Reno High for the most state titles, 19, and own a record eight consecutive unbeaten seasons going into this year. They have been state runners-up twice.
Whether it be high school or college, the words of legendary football coach Knute Rockne still ring true. “Football is a game played with arms, legs and shoulders, but mostly from the neck up.”