This week, the Pahranagat Valley Panthers are playing an out of town first-round 1A Class football playoff game.
Finishing second in the league to Spring Mountain, the team will travel to compete against Central League champs, the unbeaten Tonopah Muckers, (9-0) this Friday.
With Pahranagat as perennial Southern League champions, it has been quite routine for the past 10-12 years for the team to play their first two playoffs games in Alamo.
However, even if Pahranagat (6-1) had been the No. 1 seed, it wouldn’t have been that way this year as the new NIAA playoff format calls for semifinal games to be played at a neutral site.
For example, if Pahranagat and Eureka should happen to win their first-round games, a semifinal pairing between the teams, slated for Nov. 10, will likely be in Ely at White Pine High School, according to NIAA Assistant Director Donnie Nelson.
On the other side, in the event that Spring Mountain and Virginia City happen to be paired in the semifinals on Nov. 10, where that game might be played is anybody’s guess.
That would be a unique matchup between the Muckers and the Eagles. They have played each other in the semifinals the past two years, with Spring Mountain winning both times on the final play of the game.
In the four times the teams have competed against each other, Virginia City has never beaten Spring Mountain.
The 1A Class state final, Nov. 17, is slated for a school in the south region, unless two Northern region teams are involved.
To close out the regular season in Alamo on senior night, Oct. 25, junior running backs Jesse Jones and John Hansen each scored two touchdowns as Pahranagat beat the Green Valley Christian Guardians of Henderson, 48-14, in their first ever football meeting.
Jones had five carries for 132 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown run. He also caught a 47-yard scoring pass from Preston Higbee.
Hansen had nine carries for 118 yards. He had a 34-yard scoring run and returned a kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown.
Higbee was five for five for 91 yards and had two scores for Pahranagat Valley (6-1, 4-1 1A Southern League). He also had a four-yard touchdown run.
Highbee was replaced midway through the second quarter by backup freshman quarterback Gage Davis, who took the team the rest of the way.
Stockton Maxwell was credited with nine tackles.
Coach Brett Hansen gave most of the credit to the line in front of Hansen, Leavitt, and Jones. “They made a lot of blocks and trying to move people around and John (as well as the others) was able to see some holes and just followed those blocks of the big fellas up front.”
The Panthers took a little while to get going, but finally got on the scoreboard on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Higbee to Maxwell at 4:12 in the first quarter.
After getting the ball back, they scored again with 1:12 remaining. Then, a turnover gave the Panthers the ball near midfield and Jones made his first touchdown with a 47-yard scamper as the horn sounded to end the quarter.
Jones’ second touchdown, a 77-yard run, occurred at 10:04 of the second quarter.
Jaren Leavitt had 60 yards rushing on six carries and scored a 16-yard touchdown run at 8:29 in the third quarter.
Green Valley got their first score in the second quarter on a long pass by quarterback Collin Killoran.
After scoring again in the fourth quarter, via another long pass by Killoran, Pahranagat’s Hansen returned the kickoff 72 yards for the final score of the game.
GV Christian finished the season 2-6, 2-3.
In the other first round playoff game this Friday, Mineral County (5-4) travels to Spring Mountain (7-1).
On Saturday, Nov. 3, it will be Excel Christian (4-5) at Eureka (8-1), and Wells (6-3) at Virginia City (9-1).