RENO — As the players gathered in front of the goal post for a team photo following the presentation of the championship trophy Saturday at Damonte Ranch High School, Pahranagat Valley’s football team didn’t even need to wait for the photographer to tell them how to line up.
It’s become almost a routine for the Panthers.
Pahranagat Valley captured its fourth Class 1A title in five years with a 60-44 win over Coleville (Calif.).
Chase Hansen, Jensen Jones and Cody Hosier each scored twice for the Panthers (10-0), who held the Wolves (11-1) to their lowest scoring output of the season.
“We felt if we held them to 40 points we’d win the game,” Pahranagat Valley coach Ken Higbee said. “You can’t take anything away from our little players, and they are little. They aren’t very darn big, but our little kids get after things.”
Unlike their 128-74 win over Coleville in last year’s state semifinals, defense keyed the Panthers’ win Saturday.
Pahranagat Valley converted a fumble and an interception by Coleville quarterback Jason Peters into a pair of touchdowns and blocked a punt for a safety in building a 30-6 lead.
“I said the turnover battle would win the game, and our kids did a phenomenal job of being composed,” Higbee said.
Kale Leavitt intercepted Peters at the Pahranagat Valley 15-yard line with eight minutes left in the game, and then after Coleville
clawed back within 52-44, the Panthers forced four consecutive incomplete passes, which led to Hosier’s clinching 15-yard run.
“You make mistakes, a good team is going to take advantage,” Coleville coach Will Sandy said.
Coleville came into the game averaging more than 77 points per game, but the Panthers stymied the Wolves by trying to take away Peters’ favorite target, Emmi Sandoval.
“They put you in such tough matchups, you have to make every open-field tackle or else they go for touchdowns,” Higbee said. “It comes down to fundamental football: You block, and you tackle. If you remember that, good things happen.”