DIVISION I-A: Familiar foe stands in Pirates’ path

Brent Lewis has seen enough of Truckee’s football team.

The 11th-year Moapa Valley coach has watched his team fall to the Wolverines in each of the past three state championship games, and it’s more than he cares to stomach.

“We’ve had a bitter pill to swallow a few years in a row now and, to be honest with you, we’re tired of swallowing it,” Lewis said. “My seniors have never beaten Truckee. It would sure cure a lot of sleepless nights.”

The Pirates (12-1) will get that opportunity at 6 p.m. Saturday at Bishop Gorman High School, when they play the Wolverines (10-1) in the Division I-A state championship game. The two have met the past four years for the state title.

“I’m really happy to get back here,” senior quarterback Josh Repp said. “They’re underestimating us this year, and we’re coming back really confident.”

Moapa Valley, a winner of 12 straight games, lost 21-6 in last year’s final to Truckee. The Pirates are seeking their first state championship since 2008.

“Truckee is the toughest team we have to prepare for,” Lewis said. “They throw so much at you both offensively and defensively. They’re very well coached, and their kids fully believe they can win every game.”

Lewis said field position and ball control will be keys for the Pirates. Moapa Valley has struggled to move the chains against the Wolverines, scoring a total of 13 points in the past three meetings.

Repp, who has thrown for 924 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, will lead an attack that will square off against a 4-4 defense that Lewis said is extremely athletic.

“We’re a running team, and that’s not going to change,” Lewis said. “I imagine we’re going to have to put it up in the air a little bit, but were not going to change what we do. We’ve got to stick with what got us where we’re at.”

Senior running backs Conner Mortensen (1,746 rushing yards and 32 TDs), Kasen Hughes (13 TDs) and Sean McConnell (nine TDs) will manage the bulk of the carries.

“We try to stay balanced,” Lewis said. “We don’t go in there thinking we’re going to give it to one kid more than another. We just kind of feed the hot hand. That’s what’s great about having four solid kids you can get the ball to.”

The Pirates’ defense, coming off a shutout of Lowry in last week’s state semifinal, will try to contain Truckee senior quarterback Erik Holmer.

“He can be a threat running or passing,” Lewis said. “We have to play an overall disciplined defense. We can’t focus on one kid, because they have other kids. We’ve got to tackle; that’s the biggest thing.”

Lewis said Truckee runs at least 12 formations, which causes headaches for opposing defenses.

“Our defensive strategy is for the tackles to block the hole and our linebackers to make the plays,” Lewis said. “That’s really what they’ve done. They’ve just kind of stood in the hole. There have been so many plays where the running back runs toward a pile of bodies. That’s exactly what we plan to accomplish on Saturday.”