Moapa Valley not only wanted to ensure the road to a state title ran through Overton, but also to send a message about who the best team is entering the postseason.
That message was delivered loud and clear in the first half of the 10th-ranked Pirates’ 49-20 victory Friday night at Desert Pines.
“We knew we had to come out and show this is our division,” senior running back Conner Mortensen said. “We are the team to beat all the way through to state.”
Mortensen more than did his part, rushing for 253 yards, including three second-quarter touchdown runs. He also opened the scoring with a 63-yard punt return 1:24 into the game.
Moapa Valley (9-1, 5-0 Division I-A Sunrise) outgained the Jaguars 295-36 in the first half and took a 42-6 lead into the break.
“We played a great first half. We put on a clinic. I thought we did pretty much whatever we wanted,” Pirates coach Brent Lewis said. “I thought we came out very focused.”
Mortensen said there was additional motivation.
“This game meant a lot,” he said. “We came in knowing these guys had a lot of athletes. We were picked to win, but people were doubting us because they didn’t think we had any athletes. We proved them wrong.”
The win sealed Moapa Valley’s unbeaten season in league play.
“It means home field throughout the playoffs,” Lewis said. “That’s a big thing for us. We stressed this was our first playoff game. That’s ultimately what it came down to for us tonight.”
The Pirates will open the postseason by hosting Pahrump Valley in the Division I-A Southern Region quarterfinals next week. Desert Pines (5-4, 3-2) will play at Mojave.
Sean McConnell caught two touchdown passes from Josh Repp during a 35-point second quarter for the Pirates.
McConnell also ran for 64 yards on seven carries.
Junior Malik Davis scored all three touchdowns for Desert Pines, starting with a 90-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
He also ran for a 25-yard TD early in the fourth and caught a 2-yard pass to complete the scoring.