1A HONORS: Co-MVP Poulsen makes sure Panthers don’t miss a beat

Austin Poulsen had a daunting task ahead of him when he stepped under center for Pahranagat Valley’s football team this year.

The junior quarterback was taking over for Cody Hosier, who didn’t lose a game while leading the Panthers to Class 1A state titles in 2009 and 2010.

And Poulsen couldn’t have responded much better.

Poulsen shared Class 1A Southern League Most Valuable Player honors with Spring Mountain junior quarterback/safety Meiyako Williams, as voted by league coaches.

“The important thing to remember is, (Poulsen) stepped in for one of the better quarterbacks ever in this school,” Panthers coach Ken Higbee said. “To replace (Hosier) was a lot of pressure, and he stepped up and got it done.”

Poulsen completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 1,930 yards and 32 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He also rushed for 994 yards and 30 TDs, helping Pahranagat Valley (12-0) win its fourth straight state title and extend its state-record winning streak to 46 games.

The 6-foot-1-inch junior also emerged as a standout cornerback, with 53 tackles and seven interceptions.

Poulsen shared the top honor with Williams, a do-everything junior who keyed what some call the best season in Spring Mountain history.

Williams led Spring Mountain (8-2) to the Class 1A state semifinals, a run that included a 68-20 rout of Round Mountain in the quarterfinals to win the program’s first home playoff game.

The junior signal caller rushed for 1,154 yards and 24 touchdowns, and completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 1,788 yards and 28 TDs.

He also recorded 37 tackles and an interception at safety.

Pahranagat Valley took several other awards.

Offensive Player of the Year went to Pahranagat junior running back Tyler Higbee, who rushed for 970 yards and 18 TDs and caught 27 passes for 510 yards and eight scores.

Defensive Player of the Year was shared by Pahranagat Valley senior outside linebacker Kade Wadsworth (51 tackles, 7.5 sacks) and senior defensive end Derek Hansen (59 tackles, 6.5 sacks).

Coach of the Year went to Spring Mountain’s Aaron Masden, who guided the Eagles to a third straight playoff appearance.

Masden has won or shared Coach of the Year in each of the last three seasons.