Dave Maxwell
John Hansen comes to the nearside on a long punt return in the game with Laughlin. Pahranagat Valley won 50-8. The Panthers have a first-ever meeting at Mammoth Lake, California this Friday.

Pahranagat Valley scored on five of their first six possessions in the first half of their game against the Laughlin Cougars 50-8 last week in Alamo. 

It was the first time the teams had met since 2009. Laughlin is a 2A school but is playing eight-man ball this year as an independent. They will remain in the 2A ranks for other sports this school year. Mountain View and The Meadows are doing the same.

The Panthers and their emerging powerful offense scored the first three times they had the ball in the Laughlin game.

Coach Brett Hansen said, “We knew we had the experience and potential to be strong, but we are not yet where we want to be, and  we don’t want to peak too soon either. We are working in the right direction with still a lot of fundamentals we have to get better at.”

Pahranagat showed a strong interior line on defense, limiting the Cougars to only short gains in the middle and playing the edge for end-around sweeps which also limited Laughlin to short gains.

Hansen said Coach (Andy) Linares, “does a great job with them, teaching them what they need to know, and when they buy in and do what they are supposed to do, then that’s when they become pretty scary.”

The Panthers are showing they have the strength to have a “Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside” in the backfield this season. Both speedy runners, Reece Thornton is the strong inside ground gainer and John Hansen is the outside runner who can turn the corner, make the opponent miss the tackle and also be a good punt return player.

Thornton had 112 yards on 10 carries in the Laughlin game.  Hansen rushed for 54 yards on eight carries and sophomore Jaren Leavitt was right behind with 46 yards on four carries.

The Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside label is reminiscent of Glenn Davis and Felix Anthony “Doc” Blanchard, with the fabled national championship West Point Army teams of the mid-1940s. 

In the air, Higbee was five for 10 to five different receivers, 73 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Pahranagat recorded 49 tackles with Gage Davis accounting for eight and Paul Lewis and Jaren Leavitt each credited with six apiece.

Pahranagat took the opening kickoff and drove it downfield with Preston Higbee scoring on a one-yard dive at 9:25 in the first period.

On their next possession Hansen scored on a 25-yard run at 7:12. Thornton took a pitchout from Higbee for about 32 yards, which set up Hansen’s second score of the game on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Higbee at 3:43.  PVHS led 22-0 after one quarter.

In the second quarter, after the Cougars were mounting a drive, Pahranagat intercepted Laughlin quarterback Diego Trujillo at 9:22 on the team’s own 19-yard line. From there Higbee engineered an 81-yard drive and scored his second touchdown with a three-yard quarterback keeper.

Laughlin’s only score came in the second quarter at 3:53. Trujillo managed to turn the corner on the far sidelines and race 63 yards virtually untouched for the Cougars.

Alamo then scored again with only 34 seconds remaining to make the halftime score 34-8.

They scored twice more in the second half, once in each quarter, a nine-yard run by Thornton at 8:52 in the third period and an 18-yard pass to Davis 10:33 of the fourth quarter.

Beginning this weekend the Panthers (2-0) have three consecutive away games. First up is a long trip for a first-ever meeting with Mammoth Lake, California. The Huskies are 0-2 after following a 56-50 in overtime loss to Coleville last week in which they surrendered 555 total yards.

Principal Mike Strong has announced the game with Wells, scheduled for Sept. 20, has been moved to the night before, Sept. 19, to hopefully avoid heavy traffic expected in the Pahranagat Valley that weekend.

The Panthers’ next home game will be Indian Springs Oct. 4.