A scoreboard may not seem like much to the average person.
But Sandy Valley’s football team shines with excitement every Friday when the lightbulbs flicker on its scoreboard. It gives the players a sense of pride, because until recently, the Sidewinders played all their home games without one.
“We’ve only played a couple games with the scoreboard,” coach Brett Kramer said. “But you can just feel the community support with these things. We play on a field that’s not directly on school ground and we haven’t had a real scoreboard because of that. We just got a hand-me-down one and the community kind of rallied around it financially and time-wise to get that running. It’s something for the community to be proud of.”
So is the football team, which is off to its best start. The Sidewinders are 5-0, 3-0 in the Division IV Southern League heading into a home game against Beaver Dam (0-3, 0-2) at 6 p.m. on Friday.
“As the community and school have grown old, the support has grown with it,” Kramer said. “There’s more excitement within the community now. This is kind of where I hoped we would be two years ago. This shows everyone if they work hard toward a goal, they can accomplish it. This is the best team we’ve had.”
Since taking over as the head coach three seasons ago, Kramer has been overwhelmed with the community’s support, which also helped install lights on the field three years ago.
“Everybody else got to play on Friday night and we had to play in the afternoon,” Kramer said. “(The lights) made us feel like everybody else. ‘They have lights, we have lights.’ It was all really a collaborative effort. It took a while, but they put it into high gear recently and just got it done.”
Kramer and the Sandy Valley community — a population of less than 3,000 — are now reaping the benefits. The Sidewinders, who play eight-man football, are on pace to make their first playoff appearance since the school opened in 2007.
Two seasons ago, the Sidewinders were winless in league play and won just one game overall.
“A couple years ago, we played three or four games with only nine players,” Kramer said. “But we finished them all. At the time, I didn’t think it was a big deal. But I found that builds a program. I want to give a lot of credit to our seniors for leading the way. They drove through those hard times, the perseverance they had. They’ve gotten better each day.”
Led by senior James Rau, who ranks third in Southern Nevada in scoring with 15 touchdowns and is tied for first in interceptions with six, Sandy Valley has blown out this season’s competition. The Sidewinders have been lighting up that new scoreboard, averaging 54.8 points while only surrendering 17.6.
“He’s kind of a do-everything guy,” Kramer said of Rau. “He hasn’t rushed for as many yards as I thought he would, but everything else is up. He just finds a way to get his hands on the ball. He has a knack for finding the ball.”
Barring something unforeseen on Friday, the Sidewinders will have a chance to snap the nation’s longest winning streak (74 games) at Pahranagat Valley on Oct. 17. The Panthers (5-0, 3-0) play at winless Indian Springs on Friday.
“I would say the most exciting thing for me is our school is in a position to be so far into the season and possibly being undefeated and playing another school that is undefeated,” Kramer said. “We’ve never had that two-thirds throughout the season. That’ll be exciting.”
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at email@example.com or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson.