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1A STATE: Panthers, Wolves ready for ‘more defensive’ rematch in 1A title game

It’s not often a high school quarterback passes for 490 yards and 10 touchdowns and his team loses by 54 points.

But Coleville signal caller Jason Peters knows how that feels, after losing 128-74 in last year’s Class 1A state semifinal at Pahranagat Valley.

The Panthers’ 128 points were a national eight-man scoring record, eclipsing the 118 put up by Northern Valley of Almena, Kan., in 1985.

So with Peters back and both offenses again scoring in bunches, both teams should be prepared for a shootout in Saturday’s 1A state title game, right?

Not so fast, Coleville coach Will Sandy said.

“Fans want to see a shootout and people are kind of building this up as a 200-point rematch, but I don’t think either of us as coaches plan on that kind of a game,” Sandy said. “It’s going to be more defensive than people expect.”

Kickoff is scheduled for noon Saturday at Damonte Ranch High in Reno.

Coleville (11-0) is in the state title game for the first time since losing to Lincoln County in 1992. Pahranagat Valley (9-0) has won 12 titles overall, including last season and three of the past four years.

“If we get into a low-scoring game, I like our chances,” said Panthers coach Ken Higbee, whose team beat Tonopah 22-18 for last year’s title. “If it’s a high-scoring game, it can go either way.”

Peters, a 6-foot-2-inch senior, has posted a 39-0 touchdown-interception ratio this season, and leads the Wolves with 23 rushing touchdowns.

The Panthers boast a diversified offense led by Jensen Jones (20 TDs rushing), Cody Hosier (23 passing) and Kale Leavitt (13 receiving).

“I don’t know who you key on on this team,” Higbee said. “I think we spread the ball around better than anybody else in the state.”

Higbee pointed to controlling time of possession and preventing turnovers as keys.

Pahranagat Valley has returned to the title game despite graduating star quarterback Taylor Poulsen and running back Brady Whipple, and returning only three offensive starters.

“To be honest with you, this was a game for our team that we weren’t sure we were going to make,” Higbee said. “It’s good to be there.”

Hosier emerged as a solid replacement for Poulsen. The junior has completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 1,192 yards and 23 TDs with only five interceptions.

Pahranagat Valley hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game this season, but the challenge figures to be stiffer against Coleville. Peters has hooked up with Emmi Sandoval 40 times for 666 yards and 22 scores.

“All you can do is put yourself in position to slow them down a little bit,” Higbee said of Peters and Sandoval. “We’re trying to figure that out. That’s a pretty scary football team.”

Sandy said he’s not worried about his offense, but he called the other phases crucial.

“Two of the things we learned last year are you have to play good defense and special teams, because (the Panthers) are going to do both of those,” he said. “Last year, we got big-played to death.”

The Panthers, meanwhile, are hoping their first loss since 2007 doesn’t come when it counts most.

“They have playmakers; we have playmakers,” Higbee said. “At the end of the day, a dropped pass or fumble here or there will determine the outcome.”
 

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