Are we there yet? That’s the question every adult with kids dreads hearing on those long trips. But I am going to ask this about football.
Is Pahrump Valley a high school football town? I know I just got a chuckle from readers and most of you are shaking your heads – going “Nope, not a football town.” But a few are saying, hey, “I can see it in the future, just not now.”
And for those who are still with me, let’s take a glimpse at what a high school football town looks like for Friday night lights. For that definition I used Google. I wanted to know who the number one high school football town was in the country and why.
I came up with Massillon, Ohio or the Tigers. This town has 24 state titles and over 800 football wins.
According to the town’s website, “Even the people who live here admit that if you’ve heard of their town, it’s probably because of football. Where else are newborn boys awarded their own miniature football? On game day the town is covered with orange and black, from the shop fronts to the fire hydrants, and parades and bonfires fire up the Massillon Proud.”
I talked to head varsity football coach Nate Moore to see what it was like to be in that town of 30,000 people during football season.
It may be only his third season, but he says it is a high school football town and he wasn’t surprised it was the number one high school football town in the country.
“Everyone has heard of this town,” he said. “We are intertwined with the history of football.”
We then talked about how their youth programs start teaching football with flag football and then how he is in charge of choosing the coaching staff of youth coaches. And yes, they learn the high school system early. Well, that was basic to me.
I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to know how the town keeps supporting the team in this day and age when you have computers and can watch any sport on any device.
So I asked him, when was the last time they won a state title?
“The last time we won a title was in the 1970s,” Moore said. My mouth dropped.
And then I asked him how many fans attend games each week.
“We fill the stands every week and get 12,000 people out here to see a game,” the coach said. Mouth drops again. “Everyone is talking football for the whole ten-week season in this town. All the businesses support the team. The city of Massillon sets their calendars to our football games. Everyone gets involved, and yes, it does seem a bit overboard at times. During the big games, it is standing room only and we get around 17,000 fans.”
Of course, my next question was why? And he gave me a history lesson.
“Football is everything in this town because, we are only six miles from Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of football. We are also where high school football was born.”
He then added, “Although the team has not won a state title in a while, they are good every year and do well as an independent team. We usually are first in the region.”
Based on that conversation, Pahrump has a long way to go to becoming a football town, but believe it or not we have many of the beginning steps in place.
Our current head coach, Joe Clayton does recognize the importance of youth football. The middle school already runs his plays and uses the same playbook. Then there are our youth football teams.
Joe Clayton started youth football in Pahrump.
They currently are being taught the Jet Sweep offense at an early age. So those elements are there.
Next comes the winning tradition. That is being worked on today. We don’t have that, but we have the will. You would think with the tradition that we do have that our fans would not be coming to the games. And yet every Friday it’s like who’s who in Pahrump in the stands.
Mike Colucci, the Trojans announcer, has been watching Pahrump football since 2000.
“I think they come to the games because we are a small town and are the best entertainment around for the buck,” Colucci said. “We probably pack in 1,200 fans a game.”
He said that has been going on for awhile. His wife Cindy was raised here and she said when the stadium was smaller and the town only had 1000 people, 700 would show up for the games.
So Pahrump has a tradition of supporting its high school teams regardless of the win-loss record. Just think what we can do when we start to win.
Joe Clayton sent me a snapshot from when the football team had winning records:
1978, 9-1; 1979, 5-3; 1980, 7-2; 1986, 5-3; 1994-1995, 5-4; 1993, 7-3.
At 4-3, he has a winning season. These next two games could be a milestone for Joe Clayton because if he beats Western and Mojave he will be the winningest coach since 2004.
So are we Massillon, Ohio, nope – we are Pahrump and we are proud of it.
Contact sports editor Vern Hee at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes