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Football: Class 3A newcomer SLAM next opponent for Pahrump Valley

Losing the first two games of the season is not ideal, but the Pahrump Valley High School football team knows it’s not the end of the world. Just last season, the Trojans opened 0-2, split the next two and then went undefeated through Sunset League play to reach the Class 3A playoffs.

And Trojans coach Joe Clayton said this year’s 0-2 start feels no different than last year’s 0-2 start.

“Honestly, no, it really doesn’t, especially because as well as we played against Virgin Valley, it feels very similar,” he said. “Obviously, the first game (a loss to Lowry) was identical. We played the same two teams and again Virgin Valley wasn’t a lopsided game. We were in the game until the end, for the most part. We still feel confident.”

The battered and bruised Trojans could use a week off, but that’s not in the cards. The next best thing would be a weak opponent, and while nobody in the Trojans camp would say it out loud, this week’s foe could be just the tonic they need.

The Sports Leadership and Management Academy is a charter public school in Henderson founded in 2016, and the school will graduate its first senior class next spring.

That means the Bulls have not been playing varsity sports very long, and this is their first season playing a full league schedule in football. One of 11 football-playing schools in Class 3A South, SLAM competes in the Sunrise League with Boulder City, Moapa Valley, Rancho, Sunrise Mountain and Virgin Valley.

The Bulls are 1-1, rolling past Class 2A Calvary Chapel and getting beaten 42-14 by Del Sol. As an independent last season, the Bulls went 6-0 playing mostly junior varsity opponents, including Pahrump Valley, which they defeated 31-12.

As a sports-oriented school, the Bulls have a large number of students on their football roster, with more than 50 players listed. As a new school, most of them are freshmen and sophomores.

But Pahrump Valley coach Joe Clayton is not that concerned with the Bulls, as he has is own problems. The Trojans are hoping enough players are healthy to dress more than 20 for Friday night’s game at Chaparral High School, and the injured include top lineman Armani McGhee and leading rusher Tony Margiotta.

“With Tony out, obviously we have to do more committee running,” Clayton explained. “We have to be concerned with how good our conditioning is on both sides of the ball. We’re going to rotate a couple of other bodies at running back just to get some fresher guys in there.”

Margiotta leads Pahrump Valley in rushing with 181 yards and has 33 of the Trojans’ 96 carries through two games. But while Margiotta, Andrew Avena and quarterback Dylan Wright have handled the bulk of the rushing duties, seven other players have carried the ball for the Trojans.

But of far more importance to the Trojans is the fact that after playing what likely will be their most physical opponent of the season in Virgin Valley, SLAM presents a much less difficult challenge in the trenches.

“After playing a team like Virgin Valley, we’re pretty confident against SLAM,” Clayton said.

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