Every game is a big game when there are only nine games on the schedule, but Pahrump Valley High School football coach Joe Clayton is not using hyperbole when he says tonight’s home game against Del Sol is the biggest game of the year.
After dropping their Sunset League opener to Cheyenne last Friday night in North Las Vegas, the Trojans find themselves matched with what might be the second-best team in the league in the Dragons (3-3). After that, all that remains are Valley (3-4) and Western (1-5).
“It would surprise me if we don’t win out,” Clayton said. “I know a lot of people would think that will be crazy talk, but I have the confidence in the boys, and they have the confidence in each other.”
Depth continues to be a problem for the Trojans, who welcomed Tony Margiotta back from a knee injury last week and saw him lead the team with 116 yards on 25 carries. And Kody Peugh, at first thought to have a broken collarbone, ran hard Friday night, and Clayton said he didn’t hear a word from Peugh about his shoulder.
Dylan Wright and Jalen Denton had more minor injuries, but how effective they would be was a question. And up front, Miguel Belman’s nagging injury was an issue against Cheyenne, as De’kauri Hawkins spent the evening making Belman’s life, and by extension the lives of Pahrump Valley ball carriers, miserable.
Meanwhile, the line has another problem. Junior Anthony Carson, who was taking the place of Armani McGhee, is taking his turn in the training room.
“Carson is out,” Clayton said. “I’m not sure what his diagnosis was, he possibly has a concussion. So (sophomore Dylan) Severt will be playing tackle for him.”
As if players missing and other players out there at less than 100 percent aren’t problems enough, as of Wednesday night Pahrump Valley was waiting to hear the results of an appeal of suspensions handed to Jacob Lopez and Andrew Avena.
Those two and two Cheyenne players were ejected late in Friday night’s game after a scuffle broke out, allegedly for throwing punches. By rule, any ejected player is suspended for the following game.
There’s just one problem. After reviewing the film, Clayton does not believe his players threw any punches.
“The crazy thing about it is the Cheyenne kids didn’t throw punches, either,” Clayton continued. “You watch on film, two of their guys got ejected and two of our guys got ejected, but you watch on film and no punches were thrown.”
Without Lopez, the Trojans would be faced with yet another hole to fill on the line, while Avena, after a strong start to the season, again has been playing well, accounting for 113 all-purpose yards against the Desert Shields.
“He had a great game,” Clayton said of Avena. “He’s been actually running the ball a lot better so we give him more reps, but it all depends on what the defense gives us. Andrew has been playing really well for us on both sides of the ball.”