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Altitude takes toll on Beatty football team in loss to Spring Mountain

Spring Mountain’s status as part of the Clark County Juvenile Justice System has long been an issue for other Class 1A schools. But the biggest problem with the Golden Eagles is their home field.

As the name suggests, Spring Mountain sits up in the Spring Mountains, and the home-field advantage is quite pronounced. Last Friday afternoon, it was the Beatty High School football team that fell victim to the altitude, watching an early 12-0 lead evaporate quickly and morph into a 61-14 pounding at the hands of the Eagles in a Class 1A Southern League game.

Jacob Henry ran for one touchdown and passed to Geo Maldonado for another during the first quarter for the Hornets (4-2, 2-2 1A Southern).

Beatty coach Leo Verzilli is not pleased other teams have to be at such a disadvantage, especially when there is a safety issue involved.

“After 20 minutes of playing hard, they’re done,” he said. “They beat us on long passes. We just couldn’t breathe. You’re playing at over 8,000 feet.

“We have some of the fastest kids in our league, and they were 5 or 6 yards behind the receiver. That doesn’t happen.”

Malik Powell scored on touchdown receptions of 43, 74 and 65 yards and returned a free kick for a touchdown for Spring Mountain (5-1, 3-0). Da’Juan Brown caught five passes for 246 yards and returned a kick 64 yards for a score.

“We started with a good six-minute drive, put the ball in the end zone,” Verzilli said. “But later we couldn’t punch it in. We were on the 2- or 3-yard line twice and couldn’t punch it in, and that’s uncharacteristic of us. We can make 2 or 3 yards.”

Verzilli said his players were frustrated by their performance, not really taking the altitude into account at first.

“They were down, they were mad, they didn’t understand it,” he said. “To me it looked like they had given up, but that’s not in their nature. They don’t quit. It’s not who we are. To watch them struggle was heartbreaking. They were mad at themselves. They were trying but not able to perform. They didn’t understand it.

“We explained it to them on Monday. They’re still mad that we lost and we’re not in the playoffs, but they understand what happened.”

The loss knocks the Hornets out of playoff contention, with Pahranagat Valley and Spring Mountain in line to take the Southern League’s two places in the Class 1A playoffs beginning Nov. 2-3. But there are two games left to be played, including a nonleague tilt in Hawthorne against Mineral County, a team battling Tonopah for first place in the 1A Central.

Can the Hornets bounce back from their disappointing loss? Verzilli thinks so.

“We talked about it, and I think we got them back where they belong,” he said. “Their brains are in the right place. They’re ready to go. Postseason’s gone, but they’re ready to play just to keep their record and show people that’s not who we are. They’re not in our league, but we’re still ready to make a statement.”

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