It’s a nice way to start the season, and very few teams, if any, have ever done it, set a new national high school record in their first game of the year.
However, Pahranagat Valley did just that last week as they handed Wells their Leopard skins with a dominating 54-8 win in the opening game of the season for both teams.
The new record tops Shattuck, Oklahoma’s total of 93 between 2003-2009.
Pahranagat now ranks third all-time, regardless of classification, behind De LaSalle (Concord, CA) with 151 wins (1992 – 2003), and Independence (Charlotte, North Carolina) with 109 (2000-07).
In the streak, the Panthers have averaged 59 points per game, allowing just 12.5, and recorded 20 shutouts.
The closest other eight-man challenger to the Panther streak was Edgewood Academy of Elmore, Alabama with 70 consecutive wins, but they lost in their first game this season, 46-0 to Morgan Academy on Aug. 19, and again to Hope Christian 44-36 last week.
When asked about the new record, associate head coach Brett Hansen said, “It has taken a lot of years and a lot of support. We didn’t start out to do that, every year you just go to compete and hope for a state title. To have it happen in a rural community like this, it speaks to all what kind of community, parents and kids we have and all the work the coaches put in.”
Pahranagat last loss to Wells 18-6 in the 2004 state championship. Ever since, the Leopards have been snakebit by the Panthers, never scoring more than 22 points and 11 straight losses. PVHS also beat Wells for the state baseball and softball titles in 2015.
All-league quarterback Tabor Maxwell threw three touchdown passes in the first half. Christian Higbee, Ike Taylor, and Cullen Higbee all had two touchdowns each.
Higbee led eight runners with 119 yards on eight carries, Ike Taylor had 111 yards on six carries.
Maxwell, who was 8 for 10 passing to five different receivers for 171 yards, led the Panthers on an 80-yard drive after taking the opening kickoff, ending with a five-yard shovel pass to Cullen Highbe. Ike Taylor added the extra two-point conversion. Then about four minutes later Taylor scored on a 12-pass from Maxwell.
Maxwell also ran the ball five times for 53 yards. Hansen explained, “That was because of what the defense was giving us, and a couple of times he chose to pull the ball down and run with it. They were manning us on the outside, so when you run those people off, the middle is open.”
Wells’ quarterback Zane Rodriguez was the leading rusher for the Leopards with 25 yards on five carries. He also was 9-for-25 passing for 196 yards. He had two long first quarter passes to take the Leopards to the Panther 12-yard line, but they failed to score and turned the ball over on downs.
Taylor then broke up the middle, cut to the near sideline and sprinted 86-yards for his second touchdown, and Pahranagat had a 22-0 lead. Later in the quarter Highbe scored again on a 31-yard pass from Maxwell.
PVHS added 24 points in the second quarter for a 46-0 halftime lead and then the second unit played the rest of the game.
The Panthers simply dominated the Leopards overall, amassing 570 total yards to Wells’ 234.
Brodey Maxwell had three interceptions, one shy of the single game school record of four by Tony Steele against Beatty in 2003.
On the defensive side, Austin Mathews and Tyler Bundy both accounted for three tackles each.
Next up for Pahranagat is the meeting with Thacher Academy from Ojai, California Sept. 10.
Elsewhere around the league this weekend Round Mountain plays at Wells and Tonopah goes to Sierra Lutheran.