Chaparral football coach Paul Nihipali didn’t care if his team had to wait until Saturday to play Eldorado. There was no way he was going to leave a blank space on Merlin Olsen’s trophy cleat.
Nihipali didn’t end up having to wait for the day to change, but his team did have to sit through a weather delay of more than two hours on the road Friday before kickoff came at 9:15 p.m. From there, his Cowboys showed they were still ready to play the annual “Cleat Game” with the Sundevils, a tradition since 1973, winning 28-7 to best Eldorado for the third straight year.
“There’s no way we were going to cancel the game tonight. We could’ve played the game at one in the morning tonight, I was not cancelling,” Nihipali said. “The bottom line is these kids wanted to play, regardless of the time frame.”
Lightning strikes kept pushing the start of the game back, but both coaches wanted to play the game to give their seniors one more shot at the rivalry game’s trophy, donated by then-Los Angeles Rams star defensive tackle Merlin Olsen.
Then Chaparral showed it had its own form of lightning on its roster in the form of senior TyRay Collins. The two-way player ran 10 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns on offense and recorded a key interception on defense to lead the Cowboys to victory.
“I would have been super disappointed (if we didn’t play) because the year before the seniors before me told me to keep it,” Collins said. “I wanted to keep that promise and keep the cleat.”
Collins had an 18-yard touchdown run with five minutes left in the second quarter to give Chaparral a 14-0 lead, and scored again from 56 yards out to make it 21-0 four minutes into the third quarter.
Then Eldorado started to get back in the game, scoring on an 84-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jaime Rangel to wide receiver Andres Aviles to make the score 21-7. On the Cowboys’ ensuing drive, Sundevils senior Elijah Ezell picked off a pass and returned it to the Chaparral 15-yard line to energize the patient home crowd.
Collins soon made the stands quiet again when he grabbed an interception — his fourth of the season — to end the Sundevils’ threat.
“This year, my goal is to lead Nevada in interceptions so that just helped me out,” Collins said.
The pick marked the first of three times Eldorado got within the Chaparral 20-yard line in the second half and failed to record a point. The Cowboys defense held tough until Collins was able to break off one final big touchdown run of 55 yards with five minutes to play to make the final score 28-7.
After a longer wait than usual, Chaparral got to carry the cleat.
“They’re learning to overcome adversity and that was the tip of the iceberg tonight,” Nihipali said.
Mojave 26, Virgin Valley 0 — At Mesquite, Tawee Walker rushed for 133 yards on 13 carries, including a 69-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter to lift the Rattlers over the Bulldogs in a game that was called in the third quarter due to weather.
Mojave coach Abraham Gonzalez confirmed his team was credited with the victory.
Mojave (2-1) scored twice in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead. A.J. Williams punched in the first score of the game from 6 yards out before Walker busted out his big run.
In the third quarter, John Harper scored twice for the Rattlers, hauling in a 27-yard TD reception from Xavier DeLong, then returning an interception 100 yards to the house. He also recovered a fumble.
The Bulldogs fell to 1-2.
Needles 34, Boulder City 17 — At Boulder City, Marcus Turner rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mustangs past the Eagles.
After a slow, rain-delayed start brought a scoreless first quarter, Turner got going in the second. The junior scored on touchdown runs of 35 and 30 yards just 21 seconds apart — the second coming after a Boulder City fumble. Turner’s third score put Needles (2-0) up 20-0.
But Boulder City’s Briggs Huxford answered with an 89-yard kickoff return with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left in the second quarter and trailed 20-7 at halftime.
Huxford scored again early in the fourth on a 20-yard slant pass from Shaun Jones, and a Travis Hungerford field goal got the Eagles to within three points.
But Needles quarterback Jayden Yaeger gave the Mustangs some breathing room with a 26-yard touchdown run before Turner iced the game with his fourth rushing touchdown with 1:17 to play.
Jones threw for 185 yards for Boulder City (2-1), with 119 of those going to Huxford. Jimmy Dunagan led the Eagles’ ground attack with 50 yards.
Battle Mountain 47, Lincoln County 8 — At Battle Mountain, the Longhorns grabbed a 20-0 lead after the first quarter and cruised to a victory over the Lynx.
Noah Smith returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter for Lincoln County (1-2).
Lake Mead 69, Indian Springs 0 — At Indian Springs, the Eagles (1-0) defeated the Thunderbirds (0-2) in their season opener.
Pahranagat Valley 52, Independence 0 — At Alamo, Preston Higbee went 13-for-19 passing for 204 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the Panthers to a victory over Independence.
Jesse Jones led the team in rushing with 71 yards and receiving with 81 yards. Jones had touchdown catches of 56 and 25 yards for Pahranagat Valley (2-0), which led 44-0 at halftime.
John Hansen and Brodey Maxwell each added a rushing touchdown, and Stockton Maxwell and Richard Lewis both had a TD catch for the Panthers.
Spring Mountain 58, Beaver Dam 6 — At Littlefield, Arizona, eight Golden Eagles players scored touchdowns in their victory over the Diamondbacks.
Kamari Collins had an 87-yard rushing touchdown, and Makale Victorian had a 63-yard rushing score for Spring Mountain, which also got rushing TDs from Heriberto Cruz, Treyvon Wesley, Dylan Riddle and Leshewn Jones.
Alan Rojo caught a 53-yard TD pass thrown by Treyvon Wesley, and Jeremiah Jimenez returned a kickoff 53 yards for a TD for the Golden Eagles (2-0, 1-0 Class 1A Southern League).
Beaver Dam fell to 0-2, including 0-1 in league play.
Tonopah 44, Owyhee 8 — At Tonopah, Brandon Scobee had 10 carries for 199 yards, and the Muckers stormed to a 38-0 halftime lead en route to the win over the Braves.
Dillan Otteson completed 5 of 10 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns — everything to Kevin Pope — and ran for 52 yards on eight carries.
Damian Pace had four rushes for 29 yards for Tonopah (2-1).