Football: Coleville wraps up season
RENO – Unseating any defending champion is always a formidable challenge. And while the Coleville Wolves put up good enough offensive statistics on Saturday afternoon, it didn’t show up on the scoreboard in a 60-44 loss against Pahranagat Valley in the NIAA 1A state championship game.
Coleville (11-1) gave up four turnovers, two of which led directly to Pahranagat Valley touchdowns, which turned out to be the difference in a battle between unbeaten teams as the Panthers from Alamo (10-0) captured their second straight state 8-man football title and fourth in five years on a crisp and sunny day at Damonte Ranch High School.
Coleville was impressive in some key offensive categories, including advantages in total offense (485-438) and first downs (23-14). However, the turnovers were too much to overcome.
“Too may turnovers,” said Coleville coach Sandy. “That’s the bottom line. We just shot ourselves in the foot, and you can’t do that against a team like that.
“They’re an awesome team,” Sandy added of the Panthers. “They’re fast, they’re aggressive, and they get to the ball. We hadn’t played a team like that all year.”
Pahranagat Valley scored seven touchdowns on 13 possessions and gained a spark from Jensen Jones’ 97-yard kickoff return that gave them a 14-6 lead in the first quarter. It all came down to fundamentals, according to Pahranagat Valley coach Ken Whipple.
“It comes down to fundamental football. It’s kids making blocks and making tackles, and that’s what they do,” Whipple said. “This a good little football team, and I emphasize the part about little. They’re a tiny bunch of kids.”
The Panthers, who defeated Coleville 128-74 in the state semifinals a year ago, came in with one primary defensive goal on Saturday.
“We felt if we could hold them to 40 points, we’d have a good chance of winning the football game,” Whipple said. “They put you in such difficult matchups, you have to make every single open field tackle. If you don’t they’re going to break big plays on you. We wanted to do was keep them from doing that.”
Coleville senior tailback Jason Peters threw for 360 yards and four touchdowns to go with 126 yards rushing and two TDs. He also threw two interceptions, his first of the season, and fumbled once.
Cody Clark had nine receptions for 97 yards, while Emmi Sandoval caught five passes for 90 yards and John Hamilton five passes for 84 yards. Sandoval was a major focus in the Panthers’ game plan after he caught eight TD passes against them in last year’s semifinal game.
“We put (Dustin) Poulsen on Emmi. He’s the Southern 1A defensive Player of the Year, so we wanted to put our best against their best,” Whipple said. “We felt he was their key because any time he touches the ball, he can go all the way.”
Coleville’s defense came up with a stop on the game’s opening series, but then the Wolves lost a fumble on their first play from scrimmage. One play later, junior quarterback Cody Hosier hit sophomore Chase Hansen in the end zone with a 31-yard touchdown strike. The Wolves pulled to within 8-6 on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Peters to tight end Jay Clark, only to see the Panthers seize the momentum right back when Jenson Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.
Despite facing deficits of 30-6 and 52-28, the Wolves rallied back and even put themselves in position to tie the score after the defensive unit produced a string of four successive stops in the third and fourth quarters.
“The boys didn’t give up,” Sandy said. “They played hard all the way. I’m proud of them.”
Coleville’s defense came to life late in the third quarter. The Wolves forced a three-and-out, then stopped a drive when Hamilton broke up a fourth down pass. Pahranagat Valley gave up its only turnover midway through the fourth quarter when Hamilton forced a fumble and Tyler Summers recovered the loose ball.
The Wolves capitalized on the turnover three plays later when Peters scored on a 1-yard run to cut the gap to 52-44 with 5:23 left to play.
Pahranagat Valley answered as Hansen broke a 54-yard run before being hauled down by Clark at the 5. The touchdown-saving tackle was rewarded moments later when Summers sacked Hosier on a fourth-and-goal play, giving the ball to Coleville at the 12 with 2:27 remaining – and a chance to tie the score.
Pahranagat Valley’s defense rose to the challenge. Peters completed a 6-yard pass to Cody Clark, but then was pressured into three straight incompletions to turn the ball over on downs.
Notes: Peters closed the book on his four-year career at Coleville with state and school record totals of 8,704 yards passing and 155 touchdown passes. … The Wolves scored six touchdowns on 14 possessions and scored five times on seven trips into the red zone on Saturday. Their two biggest plays of the day came on the same series when Peters broke a 55-yard run and then threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Hamilton, capping a three-play, 95-yard drive to cut Pahranagat Valley’s lead to 52-36 late in the third quarter.