Any student of history knows of the daunting task William Travis, James Bowie and Davy Crockett faced in 1836 at the Alamo.
By no means are Will Sandy and the Coleville Wolves facing that type of fate tonight, and in fact, they are hopeful of achieving success when they visit Alamo to play Pahranagat Valley (10-0) in the NIAA Division IV 8-man football state playoff semifinals.
Remember the Alamo? “That’s kind of the way it’s been,” Sandy said, laughing.
Oh, and don’t forget, the southeastern Nevada community is located a few miles away from the intersection of Nevada state routes 375 — aka the Extraterrestrial Highway — and 93. So anything is possible, right?
All kidding aside, however, the Wolves (9-0) are undefeated and not ready to concede anything, even to an opponent currently riding a 67-game win streak that ranks No. 1 among all high schools in the nation and as the longest football win streak in Nevada prep history.
“They are very good, there’s no doubt about that,” Sandy added. “They have tremendous tradition and a coaching staff that’s been there forever. But if somebody is going to beat them, why not do it on their home field and keep them from going to the state championship?
“For us, this is as good as it gets. All the pressure is on them to keep that streak going. There are no expectations on us. We can just go down, relax and have fun.”
The Panthers, who are bidding to win their sixth straight state title, absorbed their last loss in the 2007 state championship game at Carlin, 26-24. Pahranagat is coached by Ken Higbee, whose record is 90-4 dating to 2004.
Both teams feature some big statistics.
The Panthers are led by freshman quarterback Tabor Maxwell, who has thrown for 2,128 yards and 25 touchdowns, while only allowing 5 interceptions this season.
“He might be the best quarterback they’ve ever had,” Sandy said of Maxwell. “If he isn’t now, he will be by the time he’s done.”
Junior running back Wade Leavitt leads the team in rushing with 939 yards and 10 touchdowns, and is the leading receiver with 38 receptions for 744 yards and 11 more touchdowns.
For Coleville, senior quarterback Seth Huhta is 71-for-118 (60 percent) in the passing department, good for 1,524 yards, 34 touchdowns and six interceptions. Senior running back Jacob Park has rushed for 1,259 yards and 18 touchdowns. Nestor Gutierrez, Miguel Saldivar and Ricky Gieser have combined for 57 receptions, 1,293 yards and 31 touchdowns.
The Wolves and Panthers have met four times in the last five years, including state championship games in 2009 and ’10, in addition to a memorable Nov. 15, 2008 semifinal in Alamo won by Pahranagat, 128-74.
That’s no typo, either!
“They definitely earn what they get,” Sandy said of the Panthers. “They had their playoff game on Friday night then the coaches made the drive up here to get a look at us. They are always well prepared.”
Sandy, who has coached at Coleville since 1990, certainly liked what he saw of the Wolves’ effort on Saturday in their 78-46 playoff victory at home against Carlin.
“I’m very happy with what the boys have done all year,” he said. “It’s hard to measure what’s in a young man’s heart, and they showed tremendous heart in that Carlin game. We got out to an early lead, but they came back on us and it looked like we were in trouble. We were exhausted, but they somehow found a second wind somewhere.”
Coleville saw its 50-26 halftime lead cut to 50-40 in the third quarter, however, the Wolves responded to score 28 unanswered points to break the game open. The last of those points came when Joel Gomez returned an interception for a touchdown.
“We had two interception returns for touchdowns and four fumble recoveries, and that was a key,” Sandy said. “If we’re to have a chance of beating those guys (Pahranagat), we’ve got to get a couple of extra possessions.
“They’re young and they are beatable,” he added. “But we’ve got to play a perfect game and hope they make some mistakes.”
Note: Coppertown Photography (https://www.facebook.com/CoppertownPhotography) has images from Coleville’s games (as well as senior portraits) available for purchase at adjustable rates.