(My photo)
Brodey Maxwell breaks right up the middle for a 60-yard touchdown as Pahranagat Valley overwhelmed Indian Springs for Homecoming. This week the Panthers host Spring Mountain, the only team to have beaten them in the past 111 games.

In the pre-game ceremonies, the crowd in Alamo observed a moment of silence to honor those who were killed and injured in the mass shooting in Las Vegas a few days earlier. And as the Panther team came out from the locker room, each player had an American flag to also honor those who were the first responders and unselfish, unsung helping heroes of the tragedy.

To paraphrase what one person wrote, “As we remember them, we must also remember to live our lives and do the things we love, sporting events included.  Things aren’t back to normal yet, but it is a start.”

In the jungle, the black Panther stalks its prey, then strikes quickly.  Pahranagat Valley did that very thing last Friday for Homecoming in beating visiting Indian Spring 64-12.

 The Panthers scored 44 points in the first quarter, which ties the 44 points they scored in the third quarter against Coleville in a state semi-final game in 2008.

PVHS scored three times in the first two minutes and six times that first quarter against Indian Springs. Brodey Maxwell started the scoring for the Panthers (6-0, 3-0 Class 1A Southern League), with a 60-yard touchdown run 19 seconds into the game, then added a 45-yard interception return for a score with 10:10 remaining in the first period. It was his fifth interception of the season and first pick-six.

Quarterback Preston Higbee was 7 of 11 passing, 103 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 84 yards and two more scores on five carries.

Jay Barth and Dylan Pollack had touchdown runs for the Thunderbirds (1-5, 1-3), Barth in the second quarter, and Pollack in the fourth.

This week is the game Pahranagat has been pointing toward all season, meeting the Spring Mountain Eagles. It will be Remember the Alamo night at Panther Alumni Stadium.

 Spring Mountain beat PVHS 68-46 in last year’s state championship game, snapping the Panthers national record-setting 104-game win streak. In fact, the Eagles are the only team to have beaten PVHS in the past 111 games since 2007.

Spring Mountain (5-1, 4-0) comes in after a 74-12 thrashing of Round Mountain last week.

 The game has definite playoff implications as the winner will have a clear shot of being able to host both first and second round games in the playoffs, and not then have the possible likelihood of going to Virginia City or Whittell for the semi-finals. PVHS has been the No. 1 seed in the 1A Southern Division for the past nine years.

 Pahranagat coach Brett Hansen says he will have the team ready for this all-important game. In the championship last year, the Eagles used an effective passing game under the Panthers zone defense, along with stellar play from their defense to knock off the Panthers.

 This week, on paper, a comparison of the Eagles and the Panthers in scoring per quarter has a slight edge for Pahranagat, especially in the first quarter. The Panthers average 30 points in that quarter to 24 for the Eagles. The second quarter also favors Alamo by a 16 to 8.4 margin. In the second half, the teams are quite even.

 On the field, PVHS is averaging 347.6 yards per game to 262.5 for Spring Mountain. In passing, Spring Mountain has not passed much this year, only 97.5 yards per game to a 148 yard average for Alamo’s Preston Higbee (45 for 63, 843 yards, 22 touchdowns).

 The Eagles defense against the Panthers run game will be of concern to Hansen and his coaching staff. The Eagles have a large interior offensive and defensive line with three players over 265 pounds, plus a couple of tall and athletic defensive ends.

 In the meantime, Higbee has the luxury of 6-5 Richard Lewis and 6-9 Culen Higbee to throw to, plus his own scrambling ability as he leads the team in rushing with 344 yards.

 Thus far, the vaunted Panther defense has proven to be the stronger of the two. They have allowed just 38 points while Spring Mountain has allowed 106. Pahranagat is scoring an average of 49.8 points per game to 40 points for Spring Mountain.