When you play a team that has won nine of the past 10 state championships, winning every game but one during those seasons, the barometer for success is a bit different.
So don’t be surprised when Beatty football coach Leo Verzilli says his team played well during a 58-22 loss to Pahranagat Valley in a Class 1A Southern League game Friday night.
“They played well,” Verzilli said of the Hornets. “They were up for the game. We know they’re good and we know they have numbers and they’re well coached, but we played well offensively and defensively.”
Beatty actually had an early 10-6 lead and was within 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.
“We got a safety on them and then immediately went down and scored,” Verzilli said. “We were right there, and then the second quarter came and kids started getting tired.”
But the Panthers aren’t the state’s best Class 1A program for nothing, their biggest advantage over the Hornets on this night was special teams.
“Our punt coverage and special teams … they returned two punts and a kickoff, so there’s a bunch of points right there,” Verzilli said. “It changes the face of the game.”
But Verzilli was pleased with how the Hornets played on defense.
“Defensively, the kids played really well,” he said. “Most of the time they had to drive the ball, where before they would throw it over our heads or run for 60 yards or something. We tried to stay with them. But we made some mistakes.
“We have a fourth-and-4 and get two offsides, and it’s fourth-and-14. We get a 30-yard pass play, and we have a lineman downfield. You can’t make mistakes against them.”
The Hornets pulled within 12 points at 34-22 when Jacob Henry hit Max Taylor for a 15-yard touchdown pass, but the Panthers pulled away, scoring the last 24 points of the game to make it look like a rout.
“The score was not indicative of the play,” Verzilli said.
The Hornets will face very different competition the next two games. They played league newcomer Green Valley Christian (1-3) in a Thursday night game and will travel to Arizona to face Beaver Dam next Friday. The Guardians’ only win is against Beaver Dam, which managed just eight points in a 42-point loss to Pahranagat Valley two weeks ago.