Dave Maxwell
Picture signboards for Pahranagat Valley football. A way to quickly communicate with offensive players on the field what play to run next.

Pahranagat Valley High football has started using unique picture signboards on the sidelines. Primarily introduced to college football by Chip Kelly at the University of Oregon in 2007, the signboards became so popular that many teams, both high school, and college, have used the method for several years.

Panther coach Brett Hansen said, “As far as I know, we are the only school in the state using signboards.” He explained, “The idea was to come up with something different. Throw a little wrinkle in there that we hadn’t done before. The concept is the same as it is for other teams: a way to communicate with your players on the field in the quickest form possible so that they are all on the same page and know what to do.”

The team uses four boards, each with four pictures or symbols on each side, and Hansen said everybody can look over to the sideline and know what picture or symbol they are supposed to pay attention to that specific down.

“We use them just on offense. None for the defense, as of yet. Sometimes they don’t mean anything; [they’re] just a decoy. Other times it signifies what play we want to use at that time. Coach Brian (Higbee) and I can also use hand signals, from the sidelines, to let the players on the field know if it is a decoy or a real instruction to follow. It’s not exclusive for all our offensive plays, just when we want to go no-huddle or up-tempo. It gives us more variables on to what we are doing. We’re putting it in a little bit at a time.”

Coach Higbee, the offensive coordinator, will still have quarterback Preston Higbee come to the sideline each down and verbally give him the next play to run.

“That’s the traditional way,” Hansen notes, “but we could do it with the signboards as well.”

The players have had to learn how to interpret what each of the 16 pictures or symbols mean, “but we have tried to make it as simple as possible for them,” he said.

Hansen said the idea came to him during a meeting he was at not long ago. “I was getting bored with the meeting and I started thinking about how we might do the signboard thing. I presented the idea to Coach Higbee and he was all for it.”

Another advantage of the signboards is that they allow the team to play at a faster pace, another wrinkle the Oregon Ducks brought to the game in 2007.

Because of not having to huddle after each play, the team can line up quickly and go again. At times, the Ducks, and other teams since then, even in the NFL, have been known to run an offensive play every 15 seconds or less. Pahranagat Valley may not be that fast, but Hansen said, “the players seem to enjoy being able to play at a fast pace. They see their favorite college teams doing it and they have picked up on it. And there is still more to add if we want to.”

The signboards are not the only facets of the Panthers play this season that Hansen said he is pleased with.

“Having played for and studied under (former) Coach Ken (Higbee), I focus a lot on the fundamentals, footwork and tackling, that he and his coaches stressed. Coaching with them for the last seven years, I saw it used every day in practice, an aspect of the game not forgotten about. I have tried to continue that philosophy, that when you do the little things well, good things will happen.”

This week the Panthers (4-0, 1-0) play at Tonopah (2-2, 0-1). They then begin a three-week homestand Oct. 6 against Indian Springs, Spring Mountain, and Beaver Dam. The final league game is Oct. 28 at Beatty.