Cody Hosier faced two major obstacles to playing quarterback at Pahranagat Valley last season.
The obvious one was who sat ahead of him on the depth chart: Taylor Poulsen, who threw for 32 touchdowns and ran for 19 more in leading the Panthers to a 12-0 season and a third Class 1A state title in four years.
But Hosier also suffered a broken plate in his right wrist during the first week of practice, and he missed more than a month to start the season.
Hosier finally got his shot this season, and he’s taken full advantage.
Pahranagat Valley (2-0) has blown out Wells and Laughlin by a combined score of 136-33 to start the season. The Panthers open 1A Southern League play at home against Round Mountain (0-3, 0-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“He’s been quarterbacking since the third grade,” Pahranagat Valley coach Ken Higbee said of Hosier. “He’s finally got his turn. He’s been waiting his whole life for his turn at quarterback.”
Upon returning from the injury last season, Hosier played some cornerback and attempted 21 passes as Poulsen’s backup.
Now a junior, Hosier has started the season red hot. He’s completed 21 of 37 passes for 308 yards and nine touchdowns with only one interception, and has rushed for 41 yards and two TDs.
“I was a little nervous to begin with against Wells,” Hosier said. “But I knew our team would rally around me and win together. We’re all pretty good friends. We’ve played together since third grade; we’ve always had that chemistry and friendship.”
The Panthers have shown no signs of missing the graduated Poulsen and running back Brady Whipple. They’re averaging 167 yards rushing per game.
“Mostly, it’s our line,” Hosier said. “They’re doing a good job blocking. They’re giving me lots of time to throw, our backs time to run. Our coaches are putting us in spots to win games.”
Higbee said a committee at running back has created competition that benefits the team.
Through two games, freshman Tyler Higbee (86 yards, five TDs), junior Jensen Jones (84 yards, two TDs) and sophomore Chase Hansen (81 yards) have shared the load.
“Competition’s a good thing,” Ken Higbee said. “If I don’t get tackled, I probably get the ball more.
“It keeps them fresh, too. Normal ballgames, you’ve got a kid who runs the ball 18 to 20 times. These kids are getting the ball 12 times maximum.”
Ken Higbee said his players shouldn’t be looking ahead to a state final rematch at rival Tonopah on Sept. 25. The Panthers edged the Muckers 22-18 in the state title game last year.
Round Mountain is coming off a 22-12 home loss to Laughlin (2-1) in which the Knights let a 6-0 halftime lead slip away.
“Round Mountain played Laughlin really tough last week,” he said. “I see them coming into Alamo and ready to make a statement against us.
“It’s important that our kids maintain their focus of executing on every play. When you don’t, that’s when you have breakdowns.”