Next week in Alamo, new national eight-man team record holder Pahranagat Valley will host the Thacher Toads of Ojai, California. It is rematch of the game played last year at Thacher.
The game is on Saturday night because Thacher cannot leave until after school on Friday to travel to Alamo.
A private, co-educational boarding school in the beautiful canyons along the southern California coast near Ventura, Thacher has an enrollment of about 235. A unique feature of the school is that all students are required to ride and care for a horse during their first year and beyond if they so choose. An annual gymkhana event gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their horsemanship in competition with each other.
Since the beginning of practice this year, the Panther coaches and team have been watching films of last year’s game to study what are the dominant tendencies and offensive plays of the Toads. For example, Thacher tends to run to the outside a lot, and not pass very much.
In 2015, the Toads ran the ball 341 times for 2,102 yards (210 yard per game average), while quarterback Reese Proctor attempted only 44 passes – completed 19 – and a team average of 103 yards per game.
By comparison, Pahranagat ran the ball 395 times (playoffs included), and attempted 230 passes.
Thacher lead running back senior Zion Alcindor had 704 yards rushing on the season last year and senior teammate Jackson Carroll had 612 yards, so the Panthers want to protect against the run and not let them get loose either inside or outside.
Last year’s game was one of the most thrilling and heart-stopping affairs in the team’s 94 game winning streak.
Pahranagat trailed 16-14 after one quarter, prompting an exuberant Thacher fan to say to a Panther fan, “What do you think of that?” The Panther fan calmly replied, “It’s only the first quarter.”
That was the only time the Panthers trailed, but the game still went down to the final four seconds before PVHS stopped Thacher’s attempted double reverse on fifth-and-12 from the 25 yard line, to preserve a 34-30 win.
That’s right, fifth-and-12. Apparently the men on the chain crew got confused during the final series and forgot to switch the downs marker. The Panthers coaches caught it, but the officials denied their pleas. Fortunately it did not cause any harm.