A strong running game has been Palo Verde’s calling card for many years.
The Panthers put it on display again Friday at Bonanza.
Palo Verde built a 30-0 lead in the first half before cruising to a 46-15 win. Eleven Panthers players combined for 338 rushing yards on 55 carries, led by sophomore Charron Thomas (118 yards, two touchdowns) and senior Michael Torres (113 yards, one TD).
But Palo Verde (3-1) also mixed it up in the first half, calling consecutive passes from Jacob Gosz-Siqueiros to Joseph Kalas late in the half. Kalas reeled in each one for 18 yards, the latter giving Gosz-Siqueiros his first-ever high school touchdown pass.
Palo Verde defended the run just as well, holding Bonanza (2-3) to minus-28 yards on 17 rushing attempts. The two longest rushes by the Bengals were generated by lineman Leatuvaloalii Tulimasealii, who lined up twice at tailback in a trick formation. Panthers linebacker Tony Lang led the team with three sacks totaling 29 yards.
“We’ve been waiting for Tony to come out of his shell. Tonight, he played very physically, which is how he practices,” Palo Verde coach Joe Aznarez said. “I was happy he made some big plays.”
Aznarez also was happy with how the Panthers started the game. Bonanza fumbled the opening kickoff, beginning a trend where the Panthers started the majority of their drives near midfield.
Jaylin Henderson and Thomas ran for touchdowns on Palo Verde’s first two drives. Then, Karsonne Winters scored on a 48-yard punt return, Bonanza yielded a safety and Gosz-Siqueiros’ TD pass to Kalas made it 30-0 with 5:53 remaining in the second quarter.
“He’s an excellent quarterback,” Thomas said. “He’s only a junior… and next year he’s going to be the best quarterback in Nevada.”
Any doubt that Palo Verde’s ground game would dominate the second half evaporated quickly. On the second play, Michael Torres broke free for a 62-yard run, which he followed with a 1-yard touchdown plunge moments later.
“Mike set the tone with that run,” Aznarez said. “On any given night, any of our backs can step up and have a huge night for us.”
The only Bonanza highlights were a 91-yard kickoff return by Cevion Gurka and a 56-yard touchdown pass from Julio Montenegro to Shamarion Bellegarde.
“I was disppointed we gave up two big plays at the end of the first half,” said Palo Verde coach Joe Aznarez. “We need to clean things up to get where we want to go.”