Pahranagat Valley entered the football season fresh off a fifth consecutive state title and riding a 57-game win streak.
The only problem was, the team had lost starting quarterback Austin Poulsen to graduation, and was set to enter the season with a freshman starting at the most important position on the field.
But Tabor Maxwell had long been groomed to play quarterback for the Panthers.
“We pretty much knew he’d be our starter when he was in the third grade,” Pahranagat Valley coach Ken Higbee said.
Maxwell has led the Panthers to a 5-0 start by throwing for 1,323 yards and 20 touchdowns, accounting for 77 percent of the team’s total offense.
Even though Higbee noticed the talent early on, Maxwell said that it wasn’t until seventh grade that that the coach told him he was in line to be the starter. And it only became official during this summer’s workouts.
“Coach came to me and said, ‘We’re going to need you to step up’ and I said, ‘Yes sir. I’ll do whatever it takes,’ ” Maxwell said.
Maxwell has been playing quarterback in the same system under Higbee since the second grade in the Alamo’s intramural programs.
And barring injury, the freshman should surpass the numbers put up by Poulsen, who threw for 1,735 yards and 35 TDs last season.
“Our expectation was for him to just continue on what the quarterbacks have done before him,” Higbee said. “You can never expect that from a freshman, but he’s done everything we’ve asked and then some.”
Now that Maxwell has a few games under his belt, he said the butterflies are all gone. Coming in, he did feel the pressure of taking over such a dominant program as a freshman.
“We didn’t want the class before us to look and see that everything they worked for was lost,” he said.
Maxwell hasn’t let anyone down so far. In fact, his stats look almost look like those of his favorite player, Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, after whom Maxwell models his game.
“I like how he controls the tempo of the game,” he said.
Despite the numbers he’s putting up this year, Maxwell gives all the credit to his team, especially the experienced offensive linemen.
“They do a terrific job for me opening up the pocket,” Maxwell said.
Pahranagat Valley’s win streak is at 62 games, and it almost looks certain that the Panthers will continue the winning tradition. Higbee is confident knowing that it’s Maxwell under center.
“He’s just an outstanding young man,” Higbee said. “Whatever he chooses to do in life, he’ll be successful.”