Longtime coach Ken Higbee has said this season will likely be his last as head coach of the Pahranagat Valley Panthers football team. Thus, he is transitioning many of the duties to associate head coach Brett Hansen.
Hansen is a 2002 graduate of PVHS, played on the Panthers 2001 state championship team, which was Higbee’s first title, graduated from UNLV and returned to Alamo in 2010 to begin teaching.
Hansen said his duties will be increased this year to include much of the “administrative responsibility, making sure things, and the team, are ready to go on game days, as well as all the equipment and on field supplies. More specific things, rather than just coming to the game to coach my given areas.”
While it’s the magical time of year where everyone is 0-0 and each team feels like they have a chance at the state playoffs, Pahranagat Valley is looking to do even more than that in their very first game.
Called by some, the kings of eight-man football, certainly in Nevada anyway, the Panthers are tied with Shattuck, Oklahoma (2003-2009) for the national 8-man record of 93 consecutive wins, the longest active winning streak in the nation. They can set a new record with their opening game of the season, a home game Aug. 26 with their traditional first game against Wells. The teams have played each other in the opening game for the past 12 years.
Pahranagat’s senior-dominated team has a handful of returning players including an experienced record-setting quarterback, a strong running game, plus veteran offensive and defensive lines.
The Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association this year has returned to the classification format of 4A, 3A, 2A, and 1A. Pahranagat Valley is a 1A school.
The Panthers will be led by quarterback Tabor Maxwell, running backs Christian Higbee and Ike Taylor, and receiver Cody Williams.
Maxwell was the No. 2 rated quarterback in all of southern Nevada last year, behind Kenyon Oblad of Liberty High in Las Vegas. He threw for a school record 2,724 yards, (7,895 career total), 131 of 217 attempts, (60.3 percent), had 44 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran the ball for 479 yards. In addition, he is good on the option play.
Higbee, who figures to be Mr. Inside for the Panthers, carried the ball 87 times last season for 516 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Speedy Ike Taylor returns from a leg injury that sidelined him much of last year and will likely be Mr. Outside for the team.
Williams looks to replace the graduated Shawn Wadsworth as receiver, a none too easy assignment. Wadsworth had a school record 1,078 yards on 56 catches and 21 touchdowns.
“We’re not asking anybody to replace him,” Hansen said. “Just be themselves and work hard, give us their best, which they all have. It’s working hard on the little things, footwork, technique and fundamentals that are what pay off. The kids are very coachable and listen to the coaches.”
The defensive line will again be a major factor of the team and its overall success, anchored by Garrett Higbee, Channer Hollingshead, Duston Stewart, and some tall men at defensive end, Daved Wilson, Tyson Jorgenson and Cullen Highbe.
Looking at the Panthers schedule, following the opening game with Wells, they have a bye week and get ready for a non-league visit Saturday Sept. 10 from the Thacher Toads of Ojai, California. The game last year at Thacher was one of the most thrilling in the past eight years for PVHS, going down to the final four seconds before Pahranagat secured a 34-30 victory. The Toads will surely come remembering the Alamo.
For the remainder of September, PVHS has three road games in a row, at Round Mountain, Beaver Dam and Spring Mountain.
They close out the regular season in October with three of their final four games at home, the only away game being at Indian Springs Oct. 14.
The state playoffs begin Nov. 4.