The goal all season was to recapture the Class 1A state football title they lost last year. And Pahranagat Valley did just that, capping a perfect season and avenging the loss to the same team from last year with a 68-18 thumping of Spring Mountain this year at Indian Springs High School.
In his first year as head coach, Panthers coach Brett Hansen basked in the glory of regaining the championship, giving the Panthers their ninth title in the past 10 years.
The Eagles had snapped Pahranagat’s national record eight-man 104-game winning streak in 2016, so the only thing to do was get it back.
“It’s awesome to be able to do it in my first year,” Hansen said. “That just shows you what kind of program it is in Alamo, from peewees to the community sport, to the middle school teams, to everything that’s been building that hopefully, we can continue.”
They had beaten the Eagles in league play Oct. 13, 74-26.
The Panthers (12-0) dominated this meeting too, in all facets, particularly in the first half, getting a touchdown on six of their first seven possessions.
Quarterback Preston Higbee had three touchdown passes, 5-for-11 passing, 95 rushing yards on 11 carries, and three TD runs. He finished the season with 1,583 passing yards, 40 touchdown passes, and 15 rushing TDs.
Sophomore tailback Reece Thornton had 132 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Hunter Hollingshead added 107 rushing yards and a TD.
Like any big cat, the Panthers sprang suddenly. Brodey Maxwell brought the opening kickoff back 64 yards to the Spring Mountain 21-yard line. Two plays later, Higbee connected with Southern League MVP Richard Lewis on a 23-yard touchdown pass. The 2-point conversion made it 8-0 in the first 50 seconds.
On the Eagles’ first possession, Lewis intercepted a pass from Shawn Shumpert at 9:45. Then, on a quarterback keeper, Higbee raced 40 yards for a score at 8:52 and a 16-0 first quarter lead.
Spring Mountain (9-3) did manage to make a long drive on its next possession, but from the 2-yard line, Shumpert was intercepted in the end zone by Stockton Maxwell for a touchback.
Pahranagat continued to keep the momentum away from the Eagles by engineering a 7-play 84-yard drive aided by Hollingshead’s long run to the 2-yard line, and he capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge.
Later, after stopping the Eagles on downs, Maxwell took a 19-yard scoring pass from Higbee at 2:20 in the second quarter to close out the half with a 38-0 lead.
The Panthers’ defense, a trademark of the team throughout the season, limited the Eagles, who came in averaging 203 yards rushing per game, to only 125 yards, with 98 of those coming from Shumpert. He did get his passing yards, though, on 16-for-36 for 176 yards. But he was intercepted four times.
In the meantime, PVHS more than doubled the Eagles in rushing yards, with 397.
Spring Mountain scored three times in the second half, all on Shumpert passes, two to Dalvin Brown and one to Jeremiah Jimenez.
Chalk up number 20 for Pahranagat Valley state football titles, a new state record in all classes. They had been tied for 19 with Reno High School (1924-2003).